In a previous post, we reviewed strategies for solving math word problems. One of the comprehensive strategies noted was priming. This week, we will take a closer look at this strategies in order to apply it across subject areas and grade levels.


Priming is a method of preparing a student with ASD for an activity that he or she will be expected to complete by allowing the student to preview the activity before it is presented for completion.

Priming helps to:

  • Accommodate the student’s preference for predictability
  • Promote the student’s success with the activity
  • Reduce the likelihood that the student will experience anxiety and stress about what lies ahead. With anxiety and stress at a minimum, the student can focus his or her efforts on successfully completing activities

During priming, the student will preview the materials that will be used in an activity, such as a worksheet, outline for a project, or schedule of events that will occur. Priming is not a time for teaching or reviewing the content of activity, or having the student actually complete the activity. Anyone can help the student with priming, from a teacher to a parent to a peer.

Priming may occur the day before an activity, the morning of it, the class period before, or even at the beginning of the class period when the activity will be completed. Priming should occur in short, concise time periods in an environment that is relaxing for the student with an autism spectrum disorder, and with a person who is patient and supportive.

Examples of priming include:

  • Looking at a worksheet
  • Looking through a book
  • Overviewing a test
  • Showing a visual schedule or list of activities in a task
  • Practicing with new art supplies
  • Showing a finished product
  • Viewing a work sample

Organization for Autism Research

Texas Statewide Leadership for Autism


By Lisa Rogers

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