Verbal Behavior

Verbal Behavior Skills

Verbal Behavior Skills Coastal Autism TherapyVerbal Behavior (VB) is a term coined by B.F. Skinner to describe a behavioral approach to the acquisition of language in individuals of typical development.  It emphasizes that communication is a behavior that follows the same laws and principles as other forms of behavior.

Although, Skinner did not discuss interventions to promote language development for children with autism spectrum disorder, many professionals have recently applied Skinner’s concepts to develop teaching procedures for these children and call their procedures “Verbal Behavior” or “Applied Verbal Behavior.”

A common deficit for those diagnosed with ASD is communication.  Implementing a Verbal Behavior program will focus on teaching the client to understand that the use of their language will allow them to gain access to the things they want and when they want them.  Manding (requesting) is usually the first verbal skill taught; clients are taught to use their language to communicate their wants rather than just to label objects.  In most cases, learning how to appropriately request items decreases inappropriate behaviors.  Our Verbal Behavior programs include:

  •      Manding (Requesting objects)
  •      Tacting (Labeling objects)
  •      Vocal Imitation (Imitating sounds/words)
  •      Intraverbal (Responding to ‘Wh/how’ questions)
  •      Receptive Language (Following instructions)
  •      Motor Imitation (Imitating motor actions)
  •      Self-help skills (Tying shoes, toilet training)
  •      Academic Skills
  •      Appropriate Play Skills (Park skills, playing with toys as designed)
  •      Fine Motor (Coloring, Handwriting, Cutting)
  •      Gross Motor Skills (Kicking, Throwing, Catching)

Individuals who have not developed spoken language will be taught sign language or picture exchange to bridge the gap once prerequisite skills are taught.  The goal is to increase functional communication, language, compliance and social interactions while decreasing inappropriate behavior.   The BCBA at Coastal Autism Therapy Center, Inc. begins by conducting a skills assessment utilizing the Assessment of Basic Language and Learning SkillsTM – Revised (ABLLSTM – R) and/or Verbal Behavior Milestones Assessment and Placement ProgramTM – (VB-MAPPTM) to determine which areas are lacking and which, if any, have been achieved.  A program is developed based on the results of the skills assessment, and 1:1 therapy is provided by trained behavior therapists to target the skill deficits and compliance behavior.  Data is collected during each therapy session and monthly clinic meetings are conducted, in which the parents are welcome to attend.  At these clinic meetings, achieved goals are noted and new goals are added in order to continue to move the individual forward.  To monitor long-term progress, the individual’s initial assessments are also updated every month and during the formal reevaluations.