Fading, an applied behavior analysis strategy (ABA), is most often paired with prompts, another ABA strategy. Fading refers to decreasing the level of assistance needed to complete a task or activity. When teaching a skill, the overall goal is for the student to eventually engage in the skill independently. For example, when a skill is taught using a hand-over- hand prompt, the prompt should be withdrawn as soon as possible so the student can perform the task without prompts. As an individual gains mastery of a skill at a particular prompt level, the prompt is faded to a less intrusive prompt (i.e., from hand-over- hand to touching a hand). This ensures that the individual does not become overly dependent on a particular prompt when learning a new behavior or skill.

Video Demonstration Strategy

Credits: Amanda Arnold Elementary, Manhattan KS


How To Use

One of the first decisions that should be made when teaching a new behavior is how to fade the prompt or prompts. A plan should be in place to fade the prompts in an orderly fashion. For example, fading the physical prompt of guiding a child’s hands may follow this sequence

  1. supporting wrists,
  2. touching hands lightly,
  3. touching forearm or elbow, and
  4. withdrawing physical contact altogether.

Fading ensures that the child does not become overly dependent on a particular prompt when learning a new skill.


Mr. Taon wanted to teach 6-year-old Warna with classic autism to get ready to leave the classroom when the bell rang. He decided to use prompts and to fade them as Warna became independent. At first, Mr. Taon pointed to a visual of a bell and a door when the bell rang while gently prompting Warna to get up and move toward the door. This prompt involved Mr. Taon placing a hand under each of Warna’s elbows. He would keep one hand on her elbow to guide her to the door while holding the visual.
Over the course of three weeks, he faded his prompt to (a) a light touch on one elbow while handing her the visual, (b) a light touch on her hand and a point to the visual, (c) a point toward a visual, and (d) finally he removed himself from Warna’s desk area.


Fading is the procedure of transferring stimuli as prompts to the natural stimulus. The goal is for students to produce correct responses and minimize errors when only the natural stimulus is provided.


Cooper, J. O., Heron, T. E., & Heward, W. L. (2007). Applied behavior analysis (2nd ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, Inc. This book discusses fading procedures as well as other ABA strategies.

Target: Texas Autism Resource Guide for Effective Teaching
TSLAT. (n.d.). Retrieved August 29, 2016, from http://txautism.net/interventions 

National Professional Development Center on ASD
Autism PDC. (n.d.). Retrieved August 29, 2016, from http://autismpdc.fpg.unc.edu/evidence-based-practices