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2 Acknowledgments Thanks to:
Kelly Barrett and Robin “Dedie” McCracken for inviting me and for helping with all the details. Mike Miklos of the Pennsylvania Training and Technical Assistance Network (PaTTAN) Megan Miller, Katie Fitterer, and Clair Ellis of Navigation Behavioral Consulting for referring me to T-TAC and for videos. Chris Wensil of The Mariposa School for an earlier version of this workshop Mark Sundberg, Ph.D. for allowing me to use the VB-MAPP and materials

3 Prerequisite Skills In the VB-MAPP Manual on p.2 of the introduction, Sundberg writes, “In order to obtain the maximum benefit from the VB-MAPP, it is essential that the assessor have a basic understanding of the principles of behavior analysis and Skinner’s analysis of verbal behavior.” ATS Training on VB and VB-MAPP Imp

4 A Brief History of Verbal Behavior
1934 Alfred N. Whitehead challenges B.F. Skinner to explain his behavior as he says, “No black scorpion is falling upon this table” during a dinner at Harvard. The next morning Skinner began an outline of Verbal Behavior. 1957 Verbal Behavior is published (23 years later) 1963 Joseph Spradlin publishes the Parsons Language Sample Mark Sundberg leads a group of graduate students in VB research at the Kalamazoo Valley Multihandicap Center under the direction of Gerald Shook and advised by Jack Michael.

5 A Brief History of Verbal Behavior
1979 Sundberg, M. L., Ray, D. A., Braam, S. E., Stafford, M. W., Reuber, T. M., & Braam, C. A. Publish: A manual for the use of B. F. Skinner's analysis of verbal behavior for language assessment and programming at Western Michigan University. 1982 Johnson, K.R., Sundberg, M.L. and Partington, J.W. Publish the first issue of the VB News. This becomes the journal The Analysis of Verbal Behavior in 1985. 1998 Sundberg and Partington publish the first Assessment of Basic Learning and Language Skills (ABLLS) and the book Teaching Language to Children with Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities 2008 Sundberg publishes the Verbal Behavior Milestones and Placement Program (VB-MAPP)

6 The Importance of Language and Social Behavior
The primary focus of an intervention program for children with autism should be on addressing the three core deficits of autism: language skills, social skills and limited interests. There are other skill areas to improve, such as self-care, visual motor, academics, behavior problems and fine and gross motor, but the core deficits as well as barriers to learning are the most critical. Careful application of treatments based in Applied Behavior Analysis and Verbal Behavior have much to offer in treating these deficits. Start with review of ATS

7 A Behavioral Approach to Language
Language is behavior. Language behavior can be changed by altering the contingencies under which it occurs. Basic teaching procedures and methodology derived from Applied Behavior Analysis (e.g., prompting, fading, shaping, chaining, reinforcement, extinction) have been applied to numerous behavior deficits in a variety of populations. These procedures and methods have a solid research foundation that can be easily found in over 1500 empirical studies that have been conducted over the past 60 years The functional analysis of behavior - Functional Behavior Assessment (e.g. Iwata, 1994) Functional Communication Training (Carr & Durand, 1985)

8 ABA Contingencies: The Functions of Behavior
A  B  C Antecedents is the term used to describe stimuli (anything that can be perceived by one of the sensory systems) that occur before behavior occur and Motivating Operations. Behavior is anything a person does. “If a dead man can’t do it, it’s behavior.” Walking, eating, doing math computations, talking, and even thinking are all considered “behavior” in Behavior Analysis. Consequences are stimuli that occur immediately after a behavior. A single instance of a behavior is called a response.

9 Antecedents Antecedents consist of MOs and stimuli that occur just before a response. Stimuli that indicate that a response is likely to result in a positive outcome (reinforcement) are called Discriminative Stimuli (SD). When that stimulus is present one can discriminate that a good outcome will result from a behavior. Other antecedents include the biological state of the individual. Someone who feels good is likely to behave better than someone who is ill, has a headache or stomach ache. The individual’s recent history is also important. Meeting with boss just before lunch

10 Motivating Operations (MO)
MOs alter the value of something as a reinforcer. Value can increase Value can decrease MOs can occur naturally or can be brought about by other events or behaviors. Natural: hunger, thirst Brought about by other events: drawing a cat example Increases the likelihood of behaviors occurring which have resulted in obtaining SR+ in the past. Motivation is affected by many factors: difficulty of the behavior, physical condition of the individual, time since last contact with the reinforcer, quality and quantity of available reinforcer

11 Consequences There are three basic kinds of consequences which follow behaviors: Reinforcers: A stimulus which immediately follows a response and increases the frequency of that response in the future. We also say it increases the rate of the response in the future. The process of providing reinforcers and increasing the rate of a response is called reinforcement. (SR) Punishers: A stimulus which immediately follows a response and decreases the frequency of that response in the future. The process of providing punishers and decreasing the rate of a response is called punishment. (SP) The third kind of consequence is the withholding of reinforcement that has followed a behavior in the past. This results in the eventual reduction in the behavior and the term for this is extinction.

12 A Functional Analysis of Verbal Behavior: The Basic Principles of Operant Behavior
A B C Discriminiative Stimulus (SD) Response Reinforcement Motivating Operation (MO) Punishment Extinction Conditioned Reinforcement Conditioned Punishment Intermittent Reinforcement

13 A Behavioral Analysis of Language (Skinner, 1957)
Verbal Behavior is defined as “behavior reinforced through the mediation of other persons” (Skinner, 1957, p 2.) Those persons (the listeners) must be “responding in ways which have been (learned) precisely in order to reinforce such speakers.” (Skinner, 1957, p 225, italics in original.) “In defining verbal behavior as behavior reinforced through the mediation of other persons we do not, and cannot, specify any one form, mode, or medium.” (Skinner, 1957, p. 14) “Verbal” behavior is not necessarily “vocal” behavior.

14 A Behavioral Analysis of Language (Skinner, 1957)
Skinner’s analysis of verbal behavior is an analysis of the behavior of an individual speaker. Skinner disagrees with the idea that “expressive and receptive language” are two expressions of one underlying language ability. In programs based on an expressive/receptive language a child is credited with knowing the “meaning of a word” when he can say a word when shown an object and touch the object when asked. But child may not “use the word” in other situations. The behavior of the speaker is much more complex The listener’s behavior is considered separately.

15 The Verbal Operants An Operant (operant class) is a group of responses that have the same function or occur under similar contingencies Mand: Asking for reinforcers. Asking for “shoes” because you want your shoes Tact: Naming or identifying objects, actions, events, etc. Saying “shoes” because you see your shoes Listener: Following instructions or complying with the mands of others. Touching a picture of shoes when asked “Touch the shoes” Echoic: Repeating what is heard. Saying “shoes” after someone else says “shoes” Refer to the Introduction to the Manual

16 The Verbal Operants Intraverbal: Answering questions or having conversations where your words are controlled by other words. Saying “shoes” because someone else says “What do you need to put on your feet?” Copying-a-text: Writing “shoes” because someone else writes “shoes” Textual: Reading words. Saying “shoes” because you see the written word “shoes” Transcription: Writing and spelling words spoken to you. Writing “shoes” because you hear “shoes” spoken Imitation: Copying someone’s motor movements (as they relate to sign language) Point out that CT Textual, and Trans are not VB-MAPP

17 Mand The mand is a verbal response which occurs with a motivating operation as the antecedent and the reinforcement is specific to that motivating operation. MO Mand SR+ specific to Mo Saying “water” when one is thirsty. Shouting “stop” to prevent someone for entering danger. Asking, “How do I get to Hampton, Virginia?” when your GPS is dead and you are late for a training.

18 Tact A tact is a verbal response to a nonverbal stimulus and the reinforcement is generalized conditioned reinforcement. Nonverbal Stimulus Verbal Response Conditioned Sr+ Saying “cup” when you see a cup. Saying “fighter jet” when you hear one. Saying, “I have a head ache” when there is pain in your head.

19 Echoic A verbal response to a verbal stimulus which is the same as the verbal stimulus heard and the reinforcement is generalized conditioned reinforcement. Verbal Stimulus Matching Verbal R Conditioned Sr+ Saying “ball” when someone else says, “ball.” After someone gives you directions you repeat them. The stimulus and the response have “point-to-point correspondence

20 Intraverbal An intraverbal is a verbal response to a verbal stimulus but the response does not match the stimulus. Verbal Stimulus Nonmatching Verbal R Conditioned Sr+ Saying, “truck” when a teacher says, “tell me a vehicle.” Saying, “lying eyes” when someone else says, “You can’t hide your…” Saying the above definition when someone says, “What’s an intraverbal?” There is no point-to-point correspondence. Break?

21 Multiply Controlled Verbal Behavior
A B C SD 1 See truck Reinforcement “Right, Truck!” SD1 “What’s this” Response MO (play with truck) Reinforcement (Play with truck) Break?

22 Assessment of an Individual Child’s Needs
Our first task is to identify the existing skills of each child Our next task is to identify the language, social, behavioral, and learning barriers that are preventing more rapid learning The failure to conduct an appropriate assessment results in one of the biggest problems in programs that serve children with autism: An inappropriate curriculum We need a tool that is easy to use and will provide teachers, parents, and staff with the necessary information to develop an appropriate intervention program

23 Verbal Behavior Milestones Assessment and Placement Program: The VB-MAPP
Based on Skinner’s (1957) analysis of verbal behavior Based on typical language development milestones An assessment should probe a representative sample of a repertoire Typical verbal milestones provide the frame for the sample By identifying milestones, as opposed to a whole task analysis, the focus can be sharper, the direction clearer Milestones can help to avoid focusing on minor steps, and targeting skills for intervention that are developmentally inappropriate As language develops, speech will improve. Gup for Cup – Child with greater verbal/social skills will be shaped by social contingencies.

24 Verbal Behavior Milestones Assessment and Placement Program: The VB-MAPP
Field test data from approximately 75 typically developing children and over 200 children with autism Based on the body of empirical research that provides the foundation of Behavior Analysis Based on the empirical research on Skinner’s analysis of verbal behavior Assesses skills equivalent to those of children up to 48 months of age.

25 Five Components of the VB-MAPP
The VB-MAPP: Milestones Assessment contains 170 verbal behavior milestones across 3 developmental levels (0-18 months, months, months) and 16 different verbal operants and related skills The VB MAPP: Barriers Assessment examines 24 common learning and language barriers faced by children with autism The VB MAPP: Transition Assessment evaluates a child’s ability to learn in a less restrictive educational environment across 18 different skills

26 Five Components of the VB-MAPP
The VB-MAPP: Skills Task Analysis and Tracking provides a further breakdown of the different skill areas in the form of a checklist for skills tracking The VB-MAPP: Placement and IEP Goals provides recommendations for program development for children based on their VB-MAPP profiles, and their specific scores for each of the 170 milestones and the 24 Barriers. In addition, over 200 IEP objectives directly linked to the skills and barriers assessments, and a verbal behavior intervention program are provided

27 VB-MAPP Milestones Assessment
The 16 skill areas on the VB-MAPP include: The elementary verbal operants (e.g., echoic, mand, tact, intraverbal) Listener skills Imitation skills Vocal output Independent play Social skills and social play Visual perceptual and matching-to-sample skills Grammatical and syntactical skills (Linguistics) Group and classroom skills Beginning academic skills (Reading, Writing, Math)

28 VB-MAPP Milestones Assessment
The milestones are broken into three developmental levels (see Skills Form) Level 1: 0-18 months Level 2: months Level 3: months The scores for each skill are approximately balanced across levels The Master Scoring Form is designed for 4 administrations


30 Scoring the Milestones Assessment
In each level, there are 5 items and 5 possible points for each skill area (e.g., Level 1, Mand) Each of the 170 items is scored 0, 1, or 1/2 based on the criteria in the VB-MAPP instruction manual Looking for the operant level or where the child skills are now. If the skill is clearly below the child’s operant level score quickly and move on, if it is close to the criterion level, test the skill. Generally, stop the assessment in an area if a child misses 3 milestones in a row (ceiling). But give credit if “splinter skills” are apparent.

31 Point out T, O, E, TO.

32 Scoring the Milestones Assessment
Items can be assessed through Direct Testing (T), Observation (O), Either testing or observation (E), or Timed Observation (TO). (At the top of each page) Approximations can be scored as correct. (Manual p. 18) But continue to shape a better word or sign. Don’t hold language back because words are not pronounced or signed perfectly. Total the scores for the milestones in an area and enter that score in the “Assessment” box at the upper right of each area and shade the appropriate milestones on the Master Scoring Form. * Run through Mand with early sign learner. Score the above (separate paper) and transfer to Master form handout.


34 Practice Counting Operants
Groups of 4 people Distribute operants around group Add imitation at bottom Watch video and score one or more operants Watch 2nd time and score again. Compare results Watch 1 min for warm up then 2 times through 3 min.

35 Early Echoic Skills Assessment (EESA)
Five Groups of Sounds/Words to echo. Assessor models the sound and asks the child to repeat it Scoring is similar “X” = 1, “/” = ½, Blank = 0 (100 total points) Total all the points scored in each group and record in the “Assessment” boxes on the right side of the form Use the Manual (pp ) to convert the score onto the Milestones Master Scoring Form

36 Remaining Skill Areas of the Milestones Assessment
Listener: Can the child attend to respond to what others say up to responding to complex sentences and parts of speech. Visual Perceptual Skills and Matching to Sample: From responding to visual stimuli and match objects or pictures up to complex visual patterns and sorting by categories. Independent Play: Does the child engage in play that is automatically reinforcing from exploratory play to cause and effect toys to arts and crafts and pre-academic activities such as drawing. Social Behavior and Play: Does the child seek out and engage in appropriate social play and interactions at Level 1 to engaging in social verbal behavior with peers and skills such as making verbal exchanges. Motor Imitation: Addresses how well the child can imitate the behavior of others. Beginning with basic motor movements in Level 1 to imitating novel movements on the first try. Motor Imitation is not included in Level 3.

37 Remaining Skill Areas of the Milestones Assessment
Spontaneous Vocal Responding: What sounds and words does the child say without any external stimulation. This area is assessed in Level 1 only. Listener Responding by Feature, Function and Class (LRFFC): This area assesses the child’s ability to respond to speakers based on classification and function of objects. Found in Levels 2 and 3. Classroom Routines and Group Skills: This area assesses a child’s ability to function in a classroom or as part of a group and to benefit from group instruction. Found in Levels 2 and 3. Linguistic Sturcture: This area assess pronunciation and grammar skills from combining words to use of proper syntax. Found in Levels 2 and 3. Reading, Writing and Math: The “academic” areas of the VB-MAPP address simple skills that are probably considered “pre-academic. These areas are in Level 3 only.

38 VB-MAPP Barriers Assessment
Barriers Assessment is a tool to identify and assess learning and language barriers that may impede a child’s progress. Once a specific barrier has been identified, a more detailed descriptive and/or functional analysis of that problem is required. Intervention with a child with autism or other developmental disability should include both skills that need to be increased (mands, tacts, intraverbals, play and social skills) as well as behaviors that need to be decreased (tantrums, aggression, rote responding, or self-injury). Careful analysis should be given to those behaviors which need to be decreased and the assistance of a professional (such as a BCBA) with experience in problem behavior should be consulted in many cases.

39 Kinds of Barriers Negative Behaviors: Tantrums, aggression, self-injury Any of the verbal operants can be weak, absent or impaired in some manner. Social behavior may be impaired by weak motivation for social interaction or defective mands. Defects in other operants may result in problems with social interaction. Fundamental barriers that make progress difficult such as failure to generalize, weak motivators, prompt dependency. Behaviors that compete with learning such as self-stimulation, hyperactive behavior or sensory defensiveness. Physical barriers such as problems articulation and imitation that are due to neurological issues or matching and LRFFC problems may be due to problems with vision.

40 The Barriers Negative Behavior
Instructional control (escape/avoidance) Impaired mand Impaired tact Impaired motor imitation Impaired echoic (e.g., echolalia) Impaired matching-to-sample Impaired listener repertoires (e.g., LD, LRFFC)

41 The Barriers Impaired intraverbal Impaired social skills
Prompt dependency, long latencies Scrolling responses Impaired scanning skills Failure to make conditional discriminations (CDs) Failure to generalize Weak or atypical MOs

42 The Barriers Response requirements weakens the MO Reinforcer dependent
Self-stimulation Articulation problems Obsessive-compulsive behavior Hyperactivity Failure to make eye contact Sensory defensiveness


44 Scoring The Barriers The only assessment in the VB-MAPP where a high score is bad. Rate each barrier using a 0-4 scale according to the criterion in the Manual (pp ). Generally a score of 0 indicates no problem, 1 a mild problem that minimally interferes, 2 a moderate problem and further analysis is warranted, 3 indicates a persistent problem needing further assessment and formal intervention, and 4 indicates a severe problem that also warrants analysis and intervention. Add the scores for each barrier and enter the total in the box on the upper right of the form. Scores for individual barriers are more important than the total. Scores for a barrier of 2-4 indicate that further assessment and possible treatment is warranted.

45 The VB-MAPP: Transition Assessment
A common goal for many educators and parents of children with special needs is to integrate the child into a mainstream setting There are many different levels of integration and the Transition Assessment was designed to identify the skills that increase the probability that a child will be successful in a less restrictive setting No single skill will be a good determiner of success, but a collective body of skills can help educators and parents make decisions The VB-MAPP Transition Assessment provides a tool to help determine if a child has the necessary prerequisite skills to learn in a less restrictive classroom environment There are 18 skill areas on the Transition Assessment

46 Categories of Transition Skills
VB-MAPP Scores and Academic Independence: This category includes scores from specific areas of the VB-MAPP Milestones and Barriers assessments and the child’s independent work skills. Learning Patterns: What are the child’s skills and observed patterns of behavior related to learning? Self-help, spontaneity, and self-direction: This category is a general set of skills that children need to succeed in a classroom setting.

47 VB-MAPP Scores and Academic Independence
Overall VB-MAPP Milestones score Overall VB-MAPP Barriers score VB-MAPP Barriers score on Negative Behaviors and Instructional Control VB-MAPP Scores on classroom routines and group skills VB-MAPP scores on social behavior and social play Independent work on academic tasks

48 Learning Patterns Generalization Variation of reinforcers
Rate of skill acquisition Retention of new skills Natural Environment learning Transfer to new verbal operants

49 Self-help, spontaneity, and self-direction
Adaptability to Change Spontaneous Behaviors Independent Play Skills General self-help skills Toileting Skills Eating Skills

50 Scoring the Transition Assessment
Score each item on 5 point Lykert scale according to the discriptions next to each score. Transfer the scores to the VB-MAPP Transition Scoring Form by filling in the number of boxes corresponding to the score. Total the scores for all items and place it in the appropriate box in the upper right corner of the form. Since some items are subjective, it may be advisable to have more than one person score the assessment

51 Interpreting the VB-MAPP Transition Assessment
Category 1 is most important Category 2 also important and may be the reason for similar (high or low) scores in Category 1 Category 3 is of less importance but not as critical. However, potty training can be a determining factor Decision on placement is up to IEP team VB-MAPP Transitions Assessment provides information to the team Each child and each situation is different and the IEP team needs to weigh the Transition Assessment and the needs of the child to create a truly individualized IEP.

52 VB-MAPP Task Analysis and Skills Tracking
Task Analysis and Skills Tracking is the last 35 pages of the Protocol and contains approximately 900 skills (Similar to the ABLLS (Sundberg and Partington, 1998) No task analysis for Vocal or Echoic areas Tasks are not necessarily prerequisites for the Milestones nor are they all the possible skills one might need to include in a program It is not necessary to assess all skills in the Task Analysis Useful when you need a more “fine-grained” assessment of a child’s skills. When a child is not progressing look at some of the smaller steps that may have been missed. A good source of goals when the next Milestone is too big of a step.

53 Curriculum Placement and Writing IEP Goals
The Milestones Assessment, Barriers Assessment and Transition Assessment provide a comprehensive overview of the child. What is the child’s general level? Look for strengths that may benefit the child in other areas. A child with little or no vocal, mand or tact skills, but has strong imitation skills (overall Level 1) may benefit from sign language as an initial alternative. Look for balance across the skill areas. This is a major advantage of the VB-MAPP over other assessments (ABLLS-R). Helps maintain a proper sequence in instruction. What do we do with our assessment results?

54 Level 1 Profile Child’s skills are that of a typical 0-18 month old
Difference between child’s chronological age and VB-MAPP profile is an important factor. Basic mand, tact, imitation, etc. skills should be taught. Just because the child is 5 years old does not mean he should write his name. If delays are significant will likely be best served with a significant amount of intensive 1:1 therapy If the child does not displaying vocal or echoic behavior an alternative communication method may be appropriate.

55 Alternative Communication Considerations
Portability: Regardless of the type of devise, how does the child maintain access? Similarity to Spoken Language: Sign language and speech have a separate topography for each word much different from picture/pointing systems. Tact is really match-to-sample with picture systems Intraverbal is more like LRFFC Community does not sign: This is a frequent objection to sign language. However: A child/adult who needs an alternative communication system will either have supervision in the community or will have a more universal communication skill such as writing Speech is always the long-term goal and sign has more research as facilitating speech While the community may not sign, they certainly will not serve as a model for pointing to pictures. Not even the adults around a child will serve as models for pointing systems Give strong consideration to Sign Language as a first alternative to speech.


57 Select Five Goals for LD at Level 1
Get in groups Using the Master Scoring form and/or the Task Analysis write five goals for LD. Give a rationale for your selection.

58 Level 2 Profile Skills fall in the range of a typically developing 18 to 30 month old child. Expanding the size and scope of mand, tact, lisener repertoires. Begin work on intraverbal and LRFFC skills More development of social skills and interactions with peers Children begin to benefit from small group (1:2-1:4) instruction, especially as they get to the upper end of Level 2 Watch for problems with generalization and inappropriate mand or tact frames. (“I want ____ please” “It’s a ____.”)

59 Videos

60 Select Five Goals for LD at Level 2
Get in groups Using the Master Scoring form Take into consideration that LD has begun to ask for reinforcers after almost every response and will begin to look away from the teacher when edible reinforcers aren’t delivered when requested. What barriers might this indicate? Have one or two of your goals address this issue. Give a rationale for your selection.

61 Some examples of Level 2 teaching
Watch for the following: The use of stacks of cards. Why are there different stacks? The use of errorless learning. Ask a question, give the answer, ask again, do something else, ask the original question. Note the instructor’s response to “We have to hurry.”

62 Level 3 Profile Skills fall in the range of a typically developing 30 to 48 month old child. Child has a solid foundation of language and social skills. Typical children have hundreds of mands, tacts, intraverbals, listnener discriminations, etc. The child now has the ability to acquire new words with one trial and can use a word learned in one operant in other operants. In designing a profile the professional needs to look at the entire assessment, including the Barriers and Transition Assessments. 1:1 and 1:2 instruction is minimal and the child should benefit from being in groups of peers for instruction, but more complex/difficult tasks may require small groups and individual instruction.

63 Level 3 intervention should focus on:
Expanding content of topics the child talks about with new mands, tacts, and listener responses Expanding sentence size by teaching adjectives, adverbs, propositions, pronouns, etc Develop mands for information with who, what, where, when questions. Increasing intraverbal behavior to include discussions of thigs not present. Learning to use verbal skills in social ways – mand to peers Increase frequency and complexity of peer interactions Increase the child’s ability to learn in a group. “Jim got that right! Allen, what did Jim say?” Movement to less restrictive school setting (see Transition Assessment) Begin academic skills.


65 Select Five More Goals for LD
Get in groups Using the Master Scoring form Select a barrier(s) in the group and have one goal address that barrier Give a rationale for your selection.

66 Teaching Techniques Discrete Trial Training (DTT):
Teacher Lead Teacher has organized list of things to teach Natural Environment Training:

67 Wrap Up VB-MAPP provides an assessment an curriculum guide to assess and guide the instruction for to the skills of a typical 48 month old child VB-MAPP can be used with older children who’s skills fall at a level of less than 48 months or those suspected of having some language deficits VB-MAPP is the only assessment for these skills that allows one to easily see skill progress in relation to other skills.

68 THANK YOU!!!!



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