What's Priming? - Blog - Achieve Beyond

What’s Priming?

By: Priscilla Jergensen, MS BCBA LBA

Priming is an evidence based ABA intervention that is used to prepare children for possibly challenging activities or events. It can be difficult to predict how your child will react to some situations, such as visiting the dentist or taking an airplane for the first time, but priming beforehand can help familiarize them with the new setting and ease transition.

Priming is most effective when it is built into the child’s everyday routine at school and home. It typically involves presenting the materials that would be naturally found in the new setting. This can be through social stories, books, video modeling, a related toy or an actual item from that environment, such as a toothbrush for the dentist or a stethoscope for a doctor’s visit. This can reduce the child’s stress and anxiety and increase their sense of predictability and success.

Some Guidelines for Priming:

  1. Develop a Routine- If priming for a dental visit, you can use a spinning brush to clean teeth, a small mirror to count teeth, and a book that shows pictures of what the dental office will look like. Seeing the chair and all of the lights above might help ease their anxiety.
  2. Introduce the Material- Explain what things are and what they are used for. If priming for a doctor visit, you can show your child an actual stethoscope while explaining that doctors use it to listen to their heartbeat. Then they can try it!
  3. Be Patient and Encouraging- Some children may take a while to warm up to the idea of going to a new place and even looking or touching new items. If priming for a visit to a petting zoo, a child that is scared of dogs may not be ready to pet a goat at the zoo. Reading a book and looking at pictures may be as far as you get!
  4. Give Rewards- While priming, always reinforce your child when they approach the item, sit for a story, and participate in play with the related items. Let your child put a bandage on you, listen to your heartbeat or count your teeth!! Praise them for their efforts and get them excited!
  5. Provide Choices- Ask them questions and offer choices so they have some control over their current situation. Do you want to read a book now or practice counting our teeth? Would you like to put a bandage on your doll or listen to your heartbeat?

Always encourage your child and reinforce their attempts at new things. Priming is a great way to give them a “heads up” for upcoming events. Follow their lead, and remember to be flexible if it doesn’t go quite as planned!


Academic Interventions Priming:
www.gvsu.edu › cms4 › asset › academic_interventions_-_priming

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