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Emphasis on Verbal Behavior

Make talking fun!

Verbal Behavior- Let’s talk communication that’s FUN!

Mand training is a large part of the initial stages of teaching language skills. Mand training teaches the child to request items, activities, information in relation to his environment. Therefore teaching the child that “words” are valuable and lead to getting his or her wants and needs met. Utilizing a Verbal Behavior approach, we teach each word/object across all functional relations.

 

Verbal Behavior Analysis

Do you find yourself saying, “I know he knows how to… but he doesn’t.” This is typically due to motivation. Simply repeating a word back to your child, or “narrating,” isn’t enough for a child with autism.

Maybe you find yourself saying, “He’s just not motivated.” This is common in children with autism. We use a variety of proven methods to increase motivation.

We capture your child’s motivation (known as “mand training”) to develop a connection between the value of the word from your child’s perspective and the word itself. That is, an emphasis is placed on the function, not the form of the word taught.

One of the premises of the verbal behavior approach is that the meaning of a word is found in its function- not in the word itself, or its form.

By not taking the function of language into account you often end up with a child who may be able to receptively identify or label hundreds of objects and pictures but never uses them in a functional way or demonstrates the concept of the object or picture, or a child who may have a few words but rarely uses them in a functional way.

You can also find yourself with a learner who may imitate hundreds of words but never spontaneously requests them in the natural environment.

Therefore, it is more important that initial training include teaching a child to use and react to the object in a functional way, than to label or point to an item when asked.

 

WORD FUNCTIONS

  • Mand: Requesting wants and needs
  • Tact: Labeling or describing properties of the physical environment
  • Receptive repertoire: Non verbally following directions, discriminating between pictures and objects
  • Imitation: Repeating, copying what was observed
  • Echoic: Vocal imitation
  • Intraverbal: Verbally responding to the verbal behavior of others (verbal in this case being sign, symbol, writing etc).
  • Textual: Reading
  • Transcriptive: Writing

Obviously we should not teach these all at once, but with some requesting, simple labels and receptive responses in a child’s repertoire, it is possible to build these various language components earlier than we once thought. That is, in a traditional-Lovaas approach the concept of cookie may be considered mastered when a child can:

  • point to a cookie (receptive language)
  • say cookie when shown a cookie (expressively label)

With a Verbal Behavior approach the concept of cookie is not considered mastered until the child can:

  • Ask for the cookie when he/she wants it (mand)
  • Find the cookie when asked (receptive language)
  • Select the cookie when asked:
    • What do you eat? (function)
    • What has chocolate chips? (feature)
    • Find the food (class)
  • Answer questions about the cookie when it is not present:
    • Tell me what you eat? (Intraverbal)
    • What has chocolate chips? (Intraverbal)
    • What’s crunchy? (Intraverbal)

Obviously we should not teach these all at once, but with some requesting, simple labels and receptive responses in a child’s repertoire, it is possible to build these various language components earlier than we once thought.

According to a report from the Department of Education, “Children with disabilities who receive early intervention services show significant developmental progress a year later, and families report increased confidence in their ability to deal with their child.”

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