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Prompting in ABA -- a little nudge goes a long way!

Angela Nelson, J.D., Ed.M. By Angela Nelson, J.D., Ed.M. | 4/28/14 3:20 PM | Teaching with Pictures | 2 Comments

woman-helping-boy-with-ipad-app

Wouldn't it be great if we all got the right answers on the first try? I don't know about you, but when try something for the first time, I often need a little help! Why should we expect anything different from our students when we teach them a new skill? 

The ultimate goal in special education -- or in any education program -- is for a student to complete a task or behavior independently without any help from the instructor. But before students reach that goal, they often need support. In ABA and other special education programs we tend to refer to that support as "prompting." 

The amount and type of prompting in ABA a student needs will fall on a continuum which ranges from the student being fully dependent on the instructor, to the instructor offering a minimally invasive prompt, with the ultimate goal of removing (or "fading") the prompt completely.

As we introduce digital lessons in special education and ABA, a new option is created... let the technology do the prompting! If the student can take a prompt that is programmed in an iPad App, rather than from an instructor, they are one step closer to learning independently, and are much less likely to become dependent on the prompt. 

The Language Builder from Stages App

language-builder-app-prompting-screenThe Language Builder from Stages iPad App offers a prompting feature which can be fully customized to your students' needs. The Prompt section lets you determine:
  1. The type of prompt you want your student to receive for incorrect responses.

  2. How many times you want to allow your student to make an incorrect response before they are prompted. 

  3. How many more incorrect responses you want to allow before escalating the prompt. 

  4. How you want to fade the prompt (lessen the intensity or remove completely). 

  5. And, how many correct, prompted responses you want to require before fading the prompt. 

 

In Practice - Prompting on the Language Builder App

Consider the Prompt settings chosen on the screen shot below for the Identical Matching activity:

screenshot-of-prompting-screen
1.  Type of prompt = Fade Distractor
 
2.  Number incorrect before first prompt = 2
 
3.  Number incorrect before escalating prompt = 2
 
4.  Prompt fading = Lessen Intensity
 
5.  Number correct before fading prompt = 1

prompting-example-1-and-2prompting-example-3-and-4prompting-example-5-and-6

By allowing the app to do the prompting, we have given the student more independence from the instructor. If the student is still unable to select the correct answer, the instructor can always step in and do hand-over-hand prompting to help insure a successful result. But, ideally, the use of the app will allow the student to eventually make a correct selection without instructor-intervention, which should serve to minimize prompt dependence and increase student learning!

Learn More about the Language Builder App

Angela Nelson, J.D., Ed.M. Angela Nelson received her BA and JD from UCLA where she studied and practiced behavior psychology under Dr. Ivar Lovaas, and her Ed.M. at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, with a focus on technology innovation and education. As Founder and CEO of Stages Learning Materials, Angela has created autism, special needs and early childhood curriculum products since 1997. In addition to her duties at Stages, Angela writes for multiple industry publications and is on the board of the Education Market Association. In her spare time, Angela makes a mean ginger scallion sauce, and attempts to adjust to non-LA weather.

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