SpotLIGHTing Techniques


The use of SpotLIGHTing Techniques should be considered for increasing visual attending behaviors for targets at near and intermediate ranges.  This instructional strategy is simple and easy to use, and may help to increase visual attending behavior and the level of participation in activities for students who alert frequently to light. This technique should not be used if your student is sensitive to light and/or has a seizure disorder (that may be triggered by light).

SpotLIGHTing involves the following:

  • Use of a high powered flashlight; 250 lumens or greater or a 100 LED Flashlight works well (do NOT shine the light into student’s eyes)
  • When a toy, target or other interesting visual item is presented to the student, shine the light onto the object; reflective or mylar targets work well
  • Shine the light onto the target from behind the student (over his/her shoulder), so that the student is not turning to look at the light source
  • With smaller, high powered flashlights, try moving the flashlight to within inches of the object, illuminating only the object
  • Avoid glare reflecting from the target
  • Remember to present the SpotLIGHTed target in the student’s best field of view and within 36 inches of the child
  • At first, encourage the student to attend briefly to the lighted target (this process may need to be repeated often, in an environment that encourages looking behavior; reduce environmental complexity and as well as auditory and tactual interfering stimulation)
  • Next, encourage the student to follow or track the movement of the lighted target
  • Finally, encourage the student to become involved in some way with the lighted target.  This might include, but not be limited to, reaching out to touch the target, reaching to grasp the target, shaking the target or using it for some functional purpose (grasping a SpotLIGHTed cup to take a drink)
  • The end goal is that objects and tasks are presented without SpotLIGHTing the target, and the student visually attends equally well, as the same looking behaviors are encouraged

Alternate SpotLIGHTing Technique;

For students in Phase III working with books and other materials on white paper, try using a high powered flashlight SpotLIGHTing an individual letter or target from behind the paper.  The flashlight illuminated the individual target of interest.  Press the lighted end of the flashlight right onto the back of the page.  The student looking at it from the other side sees the target of interest illuminated.


Created By Diane Sheline


One thought on “SpotLIGHTing Techniques

  1. I’ve used this technique with great success with a child with severe and multiple disabilities. There was a large fishtank at one time in our facility featuring various fish and great scenery. He would love to spot the fish lit by an LED flashlight & would track the fish & grab for the light. Fun and visually engaging for him. Unfortunately the fish scene that is now projected on the wall doesn’t work quite as well! Thanks for the idea to generalize!


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