Prompting is a means to induce an individual with added stimuli (prompts) to perform a desired behavior.  Prompting is provided when an ordinary antecedent is ineffective, and is extensively used in behavior shaping and skill acquisition. It provides learners with assistance to increase the probability that a desired behavior will occur.  Successful performance of a desired behavior elicits positive reinforcement, therefore reinforcing learning. A prompt is like a cue or support to encourage a desired behavior that otherwise does not occur.

Video Demonstration Strategy

Credits: Amanda Arnold Elementary, Manhattan KS

Credits: Tri-State ASD Collaborative


Prompting Overview

How To Use

Prompts vary from most to least intrusive. Prompting should be faded to avoid prompt dependency.

Steps in Prompting

  1. Identify the least intrusive prompt. Choose a prompt that is necessary for a correct response to occur.

  1. Give differential reinforcement. After a correct response, give appropriate reinforcement that is equivalent to the level of performance independency.

  1. Fade prompt. After the child masters a skill, gradually move prompt away or replace with least intrusive prompt.

When To Use

Prompting can be used effectively with children and youth with ASD, regardless of cognitive level and/or expressive communicative abilities across the age range. The evidence base shows that prompting is an effective intervention for learners with ASD ranging from 3 to 22 years of age.

Prompting can be used in home, school, and community settings to teach new skills, and avoid frustration and errors in responding.



  • Prompts are often categorized into a hierarchy from most intrusive to least intrusive. Types of prompts (from most intrusive to least intrusive), their descriptions, and examples are as follows: Full physical assistance. The teacher uses “hand-over-hand” support to aid the child in completing a task (e.g., when teaching the child to pick up a cup, the teacher takes the child’s hand and guides him to pick it up). Partial physical assistance.


Antecedent Prompting for Children with Autism:
This TeacherVision® article presents information on using prompting in the classroom.

Autism Internet Modules: Prompting
Autism Internet Module on Prompting


Josh was learning to match objects with names. The teacher started with verbal and gestural prompts. She said, “It is time for drawing, and we need some crayons to draw with.” She looked at the crayons on the table and pointed at them, saying, “These are crayons.” Then she pointed at the crayons and asked Josh, “What are these?” After Josh responded “Crayons,” the teacher nodded her head and said, “These are crayons! Good job, Josh!”
To fade prompts, the teacher gradually moved from verbal and gestural prompts to only positional prompts. For example, the next time the teacher placed the crayons on the table near Josh, she said, “We need some crayons to draw with. Josh, show me the crayons.” Josh pointed to the crayons correctly and received a point on his token board.

Prompting is used to increase desired behaviors and skill acquisition. When delivering prompts, the instructor should be mindful of the student’s learning level and fading considerations. Reinforcement should occur after a correct response and should be contingent upon the level of performance independence desired.

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

National Professional Development Center on ASD
Autism PDC. (n.d.). Retrieved August 29, 2016, from