From HOH to HUH: Physically Supporting AAC Learners
We’ve talked a lot about prompting strategies in previous posts, but today we look at one specific type: Physical assistance. Whether it is pointing to a symbol, activating the message window, turning pages in a communication book, or other early skills, beginning users of AAC often need a good deal of physical support to exhibit the desired behavior. Our first inclination may be to help the learner by using hand-over-hand (HOH) prompting, which is certainly effective in guiding them through the behavior. An even better way to support them, though, is hand-under-hand (HUH) prompting. With HUH, we guide learners by placing our hands under their hand (or just next to their hand) as we complete the desired behavior. HUH is frequently used with learners who have vision impairments and those who are deafblind. We find that it has much broader utility and can be a superior way of supporting some students with AAC needs.
Both types of support are effective in helping the learner to complete the desired behavior. We prefer hand-UNDER-hand in most instances, though. Here are some of our prAACtical thoughts.
- It feels more respectful. No one likes to be forced to do anything. With HUH, we’re doing it with them, not to them. That builds trust, the basis for all good intervention.
- It isn’t so pushy. It may feel quite intrusive to the learner to be physically made to do something. For some, that may lead to a bit of a power struggle with them focused more on the fact that they are being ‘made’ to do something, and less on the actual behavior we are trying to teach.
- It gives control to the learner. Usually when we use this, we are inviting them to participate. Most of us prefer that kind of autonomy.
- It encourages active participation. Both techniques are successful in getting the learner to complete a desired behavior. But HUH encourages their active participation (great for motor learning!) and reduces any tendency for passivity.
- It can be reassuring for learners. Some of our learners are reluctant to touch certain things, particularly if it is a new experience. With HUH, they are touching us, and we are manipulating the materials. That can help them get experience with the motor pathway without having to physically interact with the materials. Sometimes, this makes our learners more willing to participate.
You can learn more about using the strategy here.
Do you use HOH or HUH? We’d love to hear about your experiences.
Filed under: PrAACtical Thinking
This post was written by Carole Zangari