Fading Prompts For Independence

Do your students need prompting in order to learn and complete tasks? In special education, we often need to add prompts and cues in order to effectively support students. The promblem comes when we  don't have a plan for fading the prompt. Read on for how and why we need to fade adult prompting.

In order for students to be truly independent, we need to make sure that prompts are bing faded out quickly. With these suggestions, you should be able to help your students be more independent.

Prompting

As special education teachers, we frequently need to add prompting to our instruction in order for our students to learn and complete tasks. That is absolutely OK! However, we also need to have a plan to reduce or fade out the prompt in order for students to be independent. For example, I once had a student who was given a prompt by staff when it was time to turn off the water when washing her hands. The problem was the student still needed that prompt when she came to my classroom the 2 years later. The longer the prompt goes without being faded, the harder it is for the prompt to be eliminated. 

In order for students to be truly independent, we need to make sure that prompts are bing faded out quickly. With these suggestions, you should be able to help your students be more independent.


Fading Prompts

So now we know we need to fade our prompts, but how do we do it? Start by looking at the prompting hierarchy. 

In order for students to be truly independent, we need to make sure that prompts are bing faded out quickly. With these suggestions, you should be able to help your students be more independent.

An easy way to fade prompting is to see which type of prompting level was added and then try switching to the prompt listed above it. For example, if a student requires a full physical prompt to flush the toilet, try fading the prompt to a partial physical prompt.

Another thing to keep in mind is verbal prompting can be very hard to get rid of. You can fade from saying a whole word to saying just the first sound of the word, but there isn't an easy place to go after that. Some students won't need another prompt, but some will. For those students that do still need a prompt after verbal prompting is faded, I generally use a gestural.

Your goal when fading prompts is always going to be to get to independence. A student make get stuck for a while on one level of prompting, but don't give up!! When I train staff I always ask them, "Do you want to follow this student around for the rest of your life giving them this support?" If not, you better start fading!!

Be on the look out for ways that you are prompting without even thinking about it. For example, holding a student's hand in the hallway. handing them their things to put in their backpack, opening containers, asking, "What do you want?" etc. It is also a good idea to ask other staff to observe and see if they spot any prompts that you might be giving without noticing. We all do it, so don't feel bad... just fade it!


In order for students to be truly independent, we need to make sure that prompts are bing faded out quickly. With these suggestions, you should be able to help your students be more independent.

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