January 2013

Selecting Appropriate Cues When Individualizing a Routine in the Links Curriculum

Teaching students to participate in daily routines as independently as possible is a goal for educators. In order to accomplish this, we must task analyze each routine (break it down into each individual step) and collect data on each step of the routine. Data provides the team with important information regarding how to “cue” an expected student response, and how much “prompting” was necessary for the student to respond. Here is more information about the “cue” and the importance of identifying both the natural and instructional cues when teaching routines.

Selecting Cues

To individualize a routine the first step is to select an appropriate cue.
The cue provides important information to the student about what to do (also known as a discriminative stimulus). This cue is presented by an adult, peer or the environment, prior to the student’s expected behavior. For example, if the student is expected to walk through the lunch line, the cue presented prior to this student behavior would be either a natural cue (student follows peers to the line) or an instructional cue (adult says “line up”).
The Links Curriculum allows you to individualize a natural or instructional cue within each step of a pre-selected routine by selecting:
  1. A natural cue
  2. Progression of instructional cues
    From simple cues (modeling) to more complex cues (multiple step directions)
  3. Create a unique instructional or natural cue
  • By Pairing an instructional cue with a natural cue, students can learn to complete the task with the natural cue only
  • Identifying the appropriate instructional cues is the key to consistency among staff
  • Moving from instructional cues to natural cues is the key to independence



Suggested Cue Levels in the Links Curriculum

How to Pair an Instructional Cue with a Natural Cue

October 2012

Selecting Natural and Instructional Cues

The Links Curriculum focuses on student success in daily routines by providing:

  1. A framework for selecting the most appropriate cue for each step of the routine prior to the expected behavior.  This ensures that students receive the support needed to perform the routine as independently as possible.
  2. Flexibility to change or add cue types specific to each student’s needs.
  3. Increased complexity of cue type with the ultimate goal of student independence.

The Links process of cue selection utilizes four cue levels throughout the curriculum:

Cue Level Cue Type Cue Description
A Modeling A level cues typically utilize a verbal cue such as “do this”, followed by modeling the expected behavior by instructional staff.
B One-Step Direction B level cues typically utilize a verbal cue describing the expected behavior, followed by a visual cue. B level cues also emphasize one-step directions.
C Two-Step Directions C level cues typically utilize a verbal cue and multiple-step directions.
D Naturally Occurring Cues D level cues are necessary for any student so that s/he can meet adult/peer expectations in school and community contexts.

The four cue types also provide the instructor with a way to make the routine implementation become increasingly similar to the natural environment as the student becomes more competent during the routine.

Information on selecting and individualizing cues can be found on step 6 of the Links Quick Start Guide and page 20 of the Links Implementation Guide.  These Guides can be found on Links Online in the Lessons and Guides Tab.