Middle - Para Training


  • Sit behind child when using physical prompting. Don't build yourself into the activity.
  • Encourage student to follow directions of the classroom teacher, not just the para.
  • Allow student to make personal choices when appropriate (i.e. who student works with, color of marker to use)
  • Encourage student to carry own materials to, from, and within the classroom. Build responsibility.
  • Find opportunities for student to be independent (i.e. art projects, standing in line with peers)

Interactions with others:

  • Encourage peers/adults to direct questions to child, not para.
  • Encourage student to answer at the best of his/her ability.
  • Clarify vs. Answer for student


  • If unable to carry lunch tray, allow student to be responsible for carrying something (i.e. milk, fork, etc.)
  • Entering own lunch number
  • Making own choices on salad bar
  • Allow student to sit with peers as independently as possible. Reduced peer interaction can occur if adult is always sitting with student.


  • How independent can student be? Put on/take off coat and backpack
  • Establish routine and fade prompting
  • Greeting peers & adults


  • Think about location- Is student capable of using the public bathroom vs. nurse or resource room?
  • Think prompt fading- Does student need adult in the bathroom or are we over prompting a common routine?

*Think long-term for our students. Where do we see them in 5, 10, 15... years. The earlier we help our students gain independence, the more successful they will be down the road!

Paraprofessionals in Inclusive Classrooms: Increasing Student Learning and Independence

Prompt Fading


Tips for Using Prompts Effectively

Prompts can be very effective tools for helping learners acquire and maintain target skills; however, learners with ASD are particularly at risk for becoming dependent upon teacher/practitioner use of prompts. For example, a learner with ASD may wait for a teacher to use a verbal prompt (i.e., "Say, more juice") before requesting more juice or snack. The following tips are provided so that teachers/practitioners can use prompting effectively to help learners acquire new skills while also preventingprompt dependence.

Prompts should be as minimal as possible. Teachers/practitioners should use the least restrictive prompt needed by the learner with ASD to complete a target skill successfully. For example, a teacher should not use full physical prompting to help a learner write his name when a gentle touch on his hand may be sufficient to get him started. Teachers/practitioners identify the type and intensity of prompts based upon the unique characteristics and needs of individual learners with ASD. Often, appropriate prompts and intensity levels can be determined by observing what kind of help other learners with similar skills need to complete tasks. In general, visual and verbal prompts are less intrusive than modeling, and all are less intensive than physical prompting (Alberto & Troutman, 2012).

Prompts should be faded as quickly as possible. Providing prompts to a learner with ASD longer than necessary often results in prompt dependence. That is, the learner waits for the teacher/practitioner to deliver the prompt before using the target skill. By fading prompts quickly, teachers/practitioners help learners with ASD use target skills only when the natural cue is present; thus, increasing learners' independence and generalization of skills (Alberto & Troutman, 2012; West & Billingsley, 2005). Resource (http://www.autisminternetmodules.org/mod_view.php?nav_id=614)


A plan for you and your team should meet four essential elements:

■ Clarity: Information about the plan, expectations and procedures are clear to the individual, family, staff and any other team members.

■ Consistency: Team and family members are on the same page with interventions and approaches, and strive to apply the same expectations and rewards.

■ Simplicity: Supports are simple, practical and accessible so that everyone on the team, including the family, can be successful in making it happen. If you don’t understand or cannot manage a complicated proposed behavior intervention plan, speak up!

■ Continuation: Even as behavior improves, it is important to keep the teaching and the positive supports in place to continue to help your loved one develop good habits and more adaptive skills.

© 2012 Autism Speaks Inc. Autism Speaks and Autism Speaks It’s Time To Listen & Design are trademarks owned by Autism Speaks Inc. All rights reserved. PAGE 39

Positive Behavior Supports

■ Celebrate and build strengths and successes: Tell him what he does well and what you like. A sense of competence often fosters interest and motivation. Strive to give positive feedback much more frequently than any correction or negative feedback. ‘Great job putting your dishes in the sink!’

■ Respect and listen to him: You may have to look for the things he is telling you, verbally or through his choices or actions. ‘You keep sitting on that side of the table. Is the sun in your eyes over here?’

■ Validate his concerns and emotions: Do not brush aside his fears or tell him not to worry. His emotions are very real. Help to give language to what he is feeling. ‘I know you do not like spiders. I can see that you are very afraid right now.’ ‘I can see that you are angry that our plans have changed.’

■ Provide clear expectations of behavior: Show or tell your child what you expect of him using visual aids, photographs or video models. A great way to teach new skills is Tell-Show-Do.

■ Set him up for success: Provide accommodations. Accept a one word answer instead of demanding a whole sentence. Use a larger plate and offer a spoon to allow him to be neater at the dinner table. Use Velcro shoes or self-tying laces if tying is too frustrating.

■ Ignore the challenging behavior: Do your best to keep the challenging behavior from serving as his way of communicating or winning. This is hard to do, but in the long run it is effective. Do not allow his screams to get him out of brushing his teeth, or his biting to get him the lollipop that he wants. Behaviors may get worse before you start to see them get better. Stay the course! And make sure all family and team members are consistent in this approach and that you pair this with other positive strategies.

■ Alternate tasks: Do something that is fun, motivating or that your child is good at. Then try something hard. He will be less inclined to give up or get agitated if he is already in a positive framework.

■ Teach and interact at your child’s or loved one’s learning level: Take care to set him up for growth and accomplishment, rather than the anxiety produced by constant failure or boredom.

■ Give choices, but within parameters: Everyone needs to be in control of something, even if it is as simple as which activity comes first. You can still maintain some control in the choices that you offer. ‘Do you want to eat first, or paint first?’

■ Provide access to breaks: Teach the individual to request a break when he needs to regroup (e.g. use a PECS card that represents “break”). Be sure to provide the break when he asks so he learns to trust this option and does not have to resort to challenging behaviors.

■ Promote the use of a safe, calm-down place: Teach him to recognize when he needs to go there. This is a positive strategy, not a punishment.

■ Set up reinforcement systems: Use simple, predictable processes that reward your child for desired behavior. Catch him being good and reward that, verbally and with favored activities, objects or ‘payment.’ ‘I love that you stayed with me during our shopping trip. You earned a ride on the airplane toy!’

■ Allow times and places for him to do what he wants: Even if it is a ‘stim’, it is important to provide these options when it is not an intrusion or annoyance to others.

■ Reward flexibility and self control: ‘I know you wanted to go to the pool today and we were surprised when it was closed. For staying cool and being so flexible about that change in plans, let’s go get some ice cream instead!’

■ Pick your battles: Strive for balance. Focus on the behaviors and skills that are most essential. Be sure to include positive feedback and intersperse opportunities for success and enjoyment for you, your family, and your loved one with autism. Be resilient. Celebrate the fun and the good things!

■ Use positive/proactive language: Use language that describes what you want the individual to do (e.g. ‘I love how you used a tissue!’), and try to avoid saying ‘NO’, or ‘don’t’ (e.g. ‘stop picking your nose.’)

The Big Bang Theory - Sheldon Trains Penny


■ When behavior does occur, be careful not to:

■ Feed into the behavior, give in or provide what your child wanted to get from the behavior

■ Show disappointment or anger

■ Lecture or threaten

■ Physically intervene (unless necessary for safety, such as keeping a child from running into the street)

■ Ignoring the behavior (extinction) is often used when the behavior is used for attention, and is mild or not threatening.

■ Redirection, often supported with visuals, may involve redirection to an appropriate behavior or response and is often paired with positive strategies.

■ Removal from a situation or reinforcement through a time out is often used for calming down opportunities.

The key to using praise as positive reinforcement effectively is it needs to be:

  • specific: Make your praise as effective as possible by making it specific. Say who you praising and why! “Jeremy – thank you for putting your homework in the finished folder. That was so great.” Some kids not understand more general praise and the positive reinforcement will be wasted!
  • immediate: Use praise immediately after the appropriate behavior occurs!!
  • frequent: Make sure praise is frequent! This is such a common mistake! Once is not enough – keep praising those great behaviors to keep those great behaviors going!