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From Early Intervention for Children with ASD and ABA Mini-Manuals

Basic Expressive Prepositions (2)



• To teach the child to describe relations involving the simple locatives 'on' and

'under', 'next to', 'behind', and 'in front of'. Relevance of others targeted by employing point.

Set up


• A large base object (e.g., chair) and a smaller ambulant object. The child

faces the base object.



• Step 1: Place the ambulant object (e.g. block) in any position relative to

the base object, (a chair) and ask: “Where is the block?” Prompt correct

answer (“on,” “under,” etc.) and fade prompts over successive trials. (a)

Introduce additional locations one at a time. When introducing a new

location, always randomize it with acquired ones. (b) Vary the ambulant

object. (c) Intersperse expressive and receptive trials.

• Step 2: Introduce additional factual questions such as “What color is the

___?” (see #120), “What color is this?” (while pointing to an object) (see

#122), and questions involving pronominalization (see #144). For instance,

point to the block and ask; “What is it?” When the child answers, move it

to a new location (e.g., under the chair) and ask; “Where is it?

• Step 3: Place two different base objects next to each other and an ambulant

object (e.g., spoon) relative to one of them. Ask: “Where is the spoon?”

Prompt correct answer (e.g., “it is under the chair”) and fade prompts

over successive trials. Place the spoon in another location and repeat the

procedure. Continue until the child discriminates between all locations

with both base objects. When accomplished introduce additional factual

questions (see step 2).

• Step 4: The instructor places two different base objects next to each other

and an ambulant object in each of the possible locations (a total of 10

locations). Asks: “Where is the spoon?” “Where is the cup?” etc. The

child answers using prepositions and location (e.g., it is under the chair”)

and fade prompt over successive trials. When the child scans and answers

fluently, “reverse” the question; “What is [preposition] [location]?’ (e.g.,

“What is on the chair?”). Prompt correct answer (e.g., “a cup” or “the

cup”). Randomize “What” and “Where” questions and fade prompts over

successive trials. When acquired, introduce additional questions unrelated

to prepositions (see step 2).


• The child may point to the location of an object in cases when you want the

child to tell you. In such instances, simply ask the child to tell you where

it is. If this becomes a habit, modify your instruction so that you say, “Tell

me where the (object) is.”


    Matching, Receptive and Naming


  • To teach the child to shift flexibly between different instructions and modalities. The child will learn to shift between instructions such as “Do this” while pointing to a picture (“Selection-Based Imitation), “find one of these”/find this one” (searching), “What is this?” (“Naming”), and “Point to the ___” (“Receptive Identification”).

    Set up

  • The child is at a desk about six-seven feet away from the wall (or a large board). Place an array of known pictures on the desk and attach corresponding (and non-corresponding) pictures to the wall; place objects corresponding to the instructor’s pictures around the floor.


  • Present one of the following instructions: “Do this”/”find this one” (while pointing to a picture on the wall)”; “What is it? (pointing to a picture on the wall); “point to the ___” [one of the child’s pictures]; “bring me a __[referring to one of the objects on the floor].  An assistant prompts from behind. 


  • Shifting flexibly between different instructions may be challenging to some children.  Difficulties may be compounded if the child has been exposed to extensive “compartmental teaching” (i.e., one kind of ‘program’ at a time)

Who-Questions (3)



• To establish a rudimentary understanding of the pronoun “Who” in the context of “Where” and “What”. Use of non-specific referent(s) pulls for social awareness/relevance of others.


Set up


• Two to three (or more) persons are situated around the room or sit in a

circle. Familiar objects are placed around the room.

• This exercise is a combination of previous exercises



• Randomize (a) “What is over there?” (b) “Where is the [object]?” (c) “Is the [object] over there?” (d) “Where is [person]? followed by (e) “What does she have?” (f) Who has the [object]?” followed by (g) “Where is she?” (h)“Who is over there?” (i) “Is [person] over there ?” (points), (j) “What did you give to [person 1 or 2]?” (see “Who Questions (2)”, #160), (k) “Who did you give the [object]?” or “Who did you give the object to?”) see “Who Questions (2)” #160.

• Same arrangement as above. Add the question: “Where is the [object]?” when someone is holding the object. The child should answer, “[person] has [it]” rather than “over there.” Randomize questions about objects in someone’s possession (“[person] has it”) and not in someone’s possession (“over there”).

Tracking 4 (Two Objects)


  • To teach the child to retrieve two objects based on ‘two part pointing’ (“get me this and that”/that one and that one”) as opposed to placing items following a two part point (“Tracking 3, #41)

Set up

  • Place a few items around the room (on the floor). The items should be approximately the same size and easy to pick up and carry. The objects should be two-three feet apart. You should stand in the middle of the room about three feet from the child.


  1. Point to one of the objects and say: “get me that”, then point to another and say “and…that”. The child should bring you both objects.

  2. Initially, it may be necessary to separate the two instructions wherein the second instruction is delayed until the child responds to the first. With success, the time between the instructions can be reduced.


  • Mastery of two-step object imitation (see # 22) and multi- step instruction (see # 31) should assist in success with this exercise.

  • Mastery of this exercise may facilitate “Tracking 3”  (#41)

  • Eventually,  “give me that and that” should be practiced in conjunction with “put that over there” (placing an object in a location based on two part pointing (see Tracking 3”, #41).  If the child demonstrates persistent confusion with this discrimination, these two exercises should be kept separate at this time.

Naming Colors (5)


  • To teach the child to differentiate between object and color

  • To teach the child to shift attention between questions


  • Display a field of several objects of solid colors


  1. Randomly ask the questions: “What color is the [object]?” and “What is [color]?”/“Which one is [color]?” The child learns to shift attention between the two questions.

  2. Introduce the question: “What color is this one?”/”What color is this?” (while pointing to an object)


  • Mastery of this exercise may facilitate “Naming Colors 2” (#119)

  • This exercise increases “cognitive load”; shifting attention, tracking, scanning, working memory, switching modalities

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