The Prompting Hierarchy

What is the prompting hierarchy?
The prompting hierarchy is a guide which helps us to determine how much cueing or help an individual needs to experience success when completing a task. The prompting hierarchy is particularly used in AAC.

What does it look like?
When we first are learning how to do a skill whether we are learning to make toast or learning to communicate we all need some help for at least the first few times – or maybe the first hundred times!
We suggest to start with the least intrusive options which are our steps up the top in green and work our way down to the most intrusive where we may need to be a direct model or provide physical assistance along the prompting scale. This last step in red is something that is rarely encouraged unless absolutely necessary to give people their independence. As a person becomes more confident and competent in a skill, we can fade our prompts out to a lesser level and provide less support while someone is increasing their capacity, or if we see someone is having difficulty with a skill we can step up to more intrusive needs. It’s a flexible adaptive scale that we can change dependent on the task, setting or even the participants mood. The examples in the chart below relate directly to how this looks with an AAC system.

Who can use it?
ANYONE! Its always best to work under the guidance of a professional who understands this model especially initially as you get the hang of it, but is also helpful for care givers, teachers, parents, and family members to learn. If you work with people who are learning things – you could find a way to apply this.

Where can I use this?
The beauty of knowledge in this area is it is portable in your brain. This can be used in any setting such as with a talker at school, learning how to cook something at home or learning a new game any time day or night. So the bottom line –  the prompting hierarchy gives us a clear framework for helping people achieve varied levels of success and to help someone achieve their goals.

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