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with Heather Gilmore, MSW, LLMSW, BCBA

Manding Treatment Material Recommendations for VBMAPP Skills in ABA

The VB-MAPP is a common assessment tool used in the field of ABA (applied behavior analysis), especially with children with autism spectrum disorder. The VB-MAPP (Verbal Behavior Milestones Assessment & Placement Program) is designed for individuals with autism and individuals who display language delays. (Sundberg)

The VB-MAPP is based on B.F. Skinner’s analysis of verbal behavior, general developmental milestones, and behavior analysis concepts. The VBMAPP has five main components. (Sundberg)

The VBMAPP includes:

  • Milestones Assessment
  • Barriers Assessment
  • Transition Assessment
  • Task Analysis and Skills Tracking
  • Placement and IEP Goals

The VBMAPP Milestones Assessment is commonly used in ABA treatment with children with autism, especially with young children (specifically ages one to six years old). The Milestones Assessment includes many different areas of language development skill categories. Based upon completion of an assessment, a practitioner can develop treatment plans and programming for the specific client they are working with. It can be challenging to find materials to use that align with specific skills which is why this post is being created.

Below you will find recommendations for items or activities that can be used for each of the items assessed on the VBMAPP Milestones Assessment in the Manding category. In future posts, you can look forward to recommendations for the other skill categories on the VBMAPP.

If you’d like recommendations for any other topic in the ABA field, feel free to leave a comment below.

VBMAPP: Manding Skills Treatment Material Recommendations

M1 & M2: Emitting mands

Manding refers to requesting items or activities that the identified individual wants. There are many ways to teach this skill. The focus when selecting treatment materials for this skill should be on finding stimuli the learner would be motivated to request. Requesting can be done verbally, through PECS, or through another form of communication such as sign language.

M3: Generalization

In the context of manding, generalization will be displayed by the learner when the learner is able to mand for stimuli from multiple people, with various examples of the same stimulus, and in multiple settings. To work on generalization, see below for some more examples of the items listed in M1 & M2.

M4 & M5: Mands 5 or 10 times

After the learner is able to mand for a few items, it is important to expand the variety of stimuli that the learner mands for. To do this, programming has to be individualized as not every learner will mand for the same things. However, here are a few more examples to give you an idea of what you may want to try out for mand trials with your learner.

M6: Missing items

Manding for missing items can be challenging to work on as it might be difficult to come up with materials to use for teaching this skill. When working on this skill, it is helpful to find close-ended activities that require multiple pieces to complete so that the learner has to ask for additional pieces when they notice a piece is missing. Here are some examples.

M7: Actions

Manding for others to complete an action requires some planning regarding creating opportunities for the learner to be motivated to request an action in order to receive a preferred stimulus. Here are some ideas for treatment materials that could be used in this skill area.

M8: Manding with more than one word

This skill can be taught with any of the previously mentioned materials but here are a few more ideas that you can use when teaching a learner to mand with two or more words.

M9 & M10: Manding more frequently and spontaneously

At this point in the developmental order of manding skills, the learner should be able to mand for at least 15 different stimuli. Use the previously recommended treatment materials or other individualized items and activities to help the learner achieve this goal. Here are a few more suggestions for manding treatment materials.

  • Haribo Gummi Candy, Original Gold-Bears, 5-Ounce Bags (Pack of 12)
    • Gummy bears can be used to teach manding. Just be careful that edibles are not used in excess throughout ABA treatment as that could become an ethical concern if we are teaching children to overeat or using edibles as reinforcers too often and without fading the edibles when appropriate.
  • Faber Castell Paint Set
    • Some children enjoy painting or other crafts, so consider using these preferred stimuli as treatment materials for manding.

M11: Mand for verbal information

Manding for verbal information using a WH question or question word can be difficult to teach. You may want to use some of these treatment materials to help your learner become familiar with types of questions and how to use them and then transfer the skill to naturally occurring opportunities.

M12: Mand to remove aversive stimulus

To teach a child to mand to remove an aversive stimulus, the teacher must find situations which may be aversive to the learner (while of course not being too aversive as professionals must not violate a learner’s rights and must maintain respect and dignity of the client). This skill can be worked on by standing in between the learner and a preferred item or by placing something in the way of the learner’s preferred stimulus. You could also teach the learner to request a break from “work” time.

M13: Mand with parts of speech (adjectives, prepositions, adverbs)

Teaching a learner to mand with parts of speech requires you to identify their preferred stimuli so that you know what they are motivated to mand for and then to identify what targets may be selected as adjectives, prepositions, or adverbs relating to those preferred stimuli. You may want to help your learner become familiar with various parts of speech through multiple teaching methods to help with generalization and to provide the learner with both discrete trial and natural environment training in this area.

M14: Mands by providing instructions or directions

It is important to continue to expand the learner’s manding repertoire. This process will include helping the learner to give directions, instructions, or explanations on how to do something or how to participate in an activity. This information can be given to an adult or a peer. Some treatment materials that could be used to work on this skill are identified below.

M15: Mand for attention

Typically developing children often ask for others to pay attention to them (sometimes with maladaptive behavior and hopefully, eventually with adaptive communication). Children with autism may need to be specifically taught this skill. To teach a child to mand for others to attend to his or her intraverbal behavior, you first need to teach the child to get someone’s attention while the child also needs to have a certain level of mand skills in place in order to be motivated to want someone to attend to his verbal behavior.

Teaching manding is an essential skill for language development. This skill can be taught in a discrete trial training method but should also be focused on in natural environment settings. For further information on using NET to teach vocal manding, see:

Teaching Verbal Behavior in the Natural Environment: Teaching Vocal Manding (Requesting)

When teaching manding to children with autism it is important to individualize your programming for the learner. However, using the recommended treatment materials above may give you some guidance or a starting point to make the most of the time you have with your learner in his or her ABA sessions.

Other Articles You May Like:

Parent Training Recommendations for ABA Professionals

A Brief History of ABA (Applied Behavior Analysis)

Measurement in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) – Data Collection in Everyday Activities

Manding Treatment Material Recommendations for VBMAPP Skills in ABA


APA Reference
Gilmore, H. (2019). Manding Treatment Material Recommendations for VBMAPP Skills in ABA. Psych Central. Retrieved on June 25, 2019, from https://pro.psychcentral.com/child-therapist/2019/02/manding-treatment-material-recommendations-for-vbmapp-skills-in-aba/