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The Verbal Behavior

Milestones Assessment and


Placement Program
(VB-MAPP)

Parents Of Autistic Children of Northern


Virginia (POAC-NoVA)
Melissa Modarressi, M.Ed.
Theodore A. Hoch, Ed.D., B.C.B.A.

With tremendous thanks to


Dr. Mark Sundberg!
for writing the
vast (really vast!)
majority of what
youll see and hear
today!

Overview of Todays Session


Introductions
Brief History
Current State of VB Assessment and
Instruction
The VB-MAPP Where it came from
The VB-MAPP How to do it
The VB-MAPP How to figure out what
to do
The VB-MAPP How to evaluate
Conclusions

Introductions
Melissa
Ted
Disclaimer
www.avbpress.com
www.marksundberg.com

Brief History
Through the millenia
Sechenov, Pavlov, Watson, and others
Black box psychologists
Skinner, and the influence of consequences
Application to thinking, reading, writing,
speaking, etc.
WW-II
Verbal Behavior
Applications to people with psychiatric or
developmental disabilities
Continued conceptual and experimental
work
Application to people with autism

Controversies and Disagreements


General misunderstanding of ABA,
and its range of applications
Facilitated communication
Selection-based v. Topography-based
systems
Educational personnel preparation
Home v. school programming
ITT v. NET
But if I teach him to sign, he wont
learn to speak
Form versus function

Current State of VB
Assessment
Traditional assessment by an SLP
Standardized tests (e.g., PPVT,
EVT, Brigance, Vineland Adaptive
Behavior Scales, etc.)
Behavioral Language Assessment
ABLLS-R
VB-MAPP

Functional Nomenclature
Mand
Motor
imitation
Tact
Vocal
Echoic
Imitation
Transcriptive
Textual
Intraverbal
LRFFC
Speakers repertoireMatching to
sample
Listeners repertoire
Verbal
Autoclitic
behavior

What is it?
Antecedent
Fire in the
fireplace

Your
behavior
Fire

Ready, aim

Consequence
Yep

???
Fire

Fire on the
stove while
youre
cooking

Fire

Someone
rushes in to
help

What is it?
Antecedent
Your
behavior
FIRE written on
board
Fire

Consequence
????

Smell of smoke

???

I say fire
Its hot, orange,
and burns

Fire
yep
Fire
Fire

Thats the
word

So, verbal behaviors not


about teaching words?
Not so much

Back to that VB-MAPP


Where did it come from?
History described earlier
Evolution helped along by
numerous behavior analysts (and
even SLPs)
Field tested on NT kids and kids
with autism and other disabilities
Normed against other instruments

How does VB-MAPP


compare with other
assessments?

Functional
Formative and summative
Criterion and norm referenced
Assesses verbal repertoires
Those way cool Barriers and
Transitions Assessments, and
that IEP Guide

VB-MAPP
Who can administer it?

VB-MAPP
Who should administer it?
In order to conduct this language
assessment it is essential that
the the tester have a basic
understanding of behavior
analysis, Skinners (1957)
analysis of verbal behavior, and
the components of linguistic
structure
Sundberg (2008), p. 16

VB-MAPP
Section by Section

VB-MAPP Skills Assessment


Skills assessed on the VB-MAPP include:
Elementary verbal operants
Listener skills
Vocal output
Independent play
Social skills and social play
Visual perceptual skills and matching-tosample
Grammatical and syntactical skills
Group and classroom skills
Beginning academic skills

VB-MAPP Skills Assessment


Milestones in three developmental levels
Level 1: 0-18 months
Level 2: 18-30 months
Level 3: 30-48 months
Scores balanced across each level
Five items and five possible points for each skill area
Three boxes in all sections for separate
administrations
Each item scored 0, 1, or
Look for the operant level; If the skill is below
operant level score quickly and move on; if it is close
to the operant level, test it

VB-MAPP Level 1: Tact

VB-MAPP Skills Assessment


Total for the five items is marked on the top of
each skill area
Totals for each skill area are added for all
three levels and placed on the VB-MAPP
Scoring Form
Total score on the Echoic sub-test is converted
to a milestone score on the VB-MAPP form
Specific items on the VB-MAPP have been
adjusted many times based on the field-test
data (See VB-MAPP Assessment Forms)

VB-MAPP Barriers Assessment


Important to find out what a child can do (The VB-MAPP
Skills Assessment), but also what she cant, and why
VB-MAPP Barriers Assessment designed to identify and
score 22 different learning and language acquisition
barriers
Once a barrier is identified, a more detailed descriptive
and/or functional analysis is required
Many ways for a verbal repertoire or related skill to
become defective so individualized analysis needed to
determine what the nature of the problem is for a
specific child, and what intervention program might be
appropriate

VB-MAPP Barriers Assessment


Defective Verbal Behavior
Descriptive functional analysis of verbal behavior
Behavioral analysis of words, phrases, and
sentences emitted by children with autism
Same basic principles of behavior as nonverbal
behavior
What is the source of control?
Sources of control often reveal that what appears
to be a correct response in form is actually
incorrect in function

VB-MAPP Barriers Assessment


Defective Verbal Behavior
Might not be the same source of control
observed in a typically developing child (e.g., I
have a red shirt on)
Each verbal operant can be susceptible to
unwanted sources of control
Defective mands (I want candy. Whats that?)
Defective tacts (Bounce ball, Black car, Under
table)

VB-MAPP Barriers Assessment


Common Learning and Language Acquisition
Barriers
Instructional control (Escape/avoidance)
Behavior problems
Defective mand
Defective tact
Defective motor imitation
Defective echoic (e.g., echolalia)
Defective matching-to-sample

VB-MAPP Barriers Assessment


Common Learning and Language Acquisition
Barriers
Defective listener repertoires (e.g., LD, LRFFC)
Defective intraverbal
Defective play and social skills
Prompt dependent, long latencies
Scrolling responses
Defective scanning skills
Failure to make conditional discriminations
Failure to generalize

VB-MAPP Barriers Assessment


Common Learning and Language Acquisition Barriers
Weak or atypical MOs
Response requirements weakens the MO
Self-stimulation
Articulation problems
Obsessive-compulsive behavior
Reinforcement dependent
Does not attend to people/materials
Defective social behavior

Scoring the VB-MAPP Barriers Assessment


Rate the child on the VB-MAPP Barriers
Assessment Form using a Likert-type scale of 1 to
5
1 or 2 = no significant barriers, and formal
intervention plan may not be required.
3, 4, or 5 = barrier(s) present, that probably
should be addressed as part of the intervention
program
For some, immediate focus of intervention is on
removing a particular barrier, rather than
language instruction
Most common immediate barriers to remove
involve instructional control problems, or other
behavior problems

VB-MAPPS for
Typically Developing Children
Lisa Hale
Mark L. Sundberg
Rikki Roden
Carl T. Sundberg
Cindy A. Sundberg

VB-MAPPs for
Children with Autism
Mark L. Sundberg
Carl T. Sundberg
Shannon Rosenhan
Shannon Montano
Kaisa Weathers

VB MAPP Skills Task Analysis


Milestones can be considered floors in a
building, and the task analysis contains the
steps between each floor
170 milestones and approximately 1000 total
tasks in the VB-MAPP task analysis
Task analysis form also allows for more
detailed skills tracking
Building a whole repertoire, not just individual
skills (e.g., mand, tact, M-T-S repertoires)

VB MAPP IEP Goals and Placement


Results of the VB-MAPP Skills and Barriers
Assessment provide guidance for developing
an intervention program
Specific IEP goals are provided for each
milestone and barrier
The assessment corresponds with the verbal
behavior intervention program (Sundberg &
Partington, 1998; Sundberg, in preparation)

VB-MAPP Transition Assessment


A common goal for many educators and parents
of children is to integrate the child into a
mainstream setting
Many different levels of integration
Transition Assessment designed to identify skills
that increase probability a child will succeed in a
less restrictive setting

VB-MAPP Transition Assessment


No single skill will be a good determiner of
success, but a collective body of skills can
help educators and parents make decisions
VB-MAPP Transition Assessment helps
determine if a child has necessary
prerequisite skills to learn in a less
restrictive classroom environment
There are 18 skill areas on the Transition
Assessment

VB-MAPP Transition Assessment


Transition skills
include:
Overall VB-MAPP
Skills score
Barrier
behaviors
Group skills
Social skills
Independence
Classroom
routines
Play skills
Toileting

Spontaneity
Reinforcers
Learning in the
natural
environment
Generalization
Quick acquisition
Retention
Transfer skills
Self-care
Safety

VB-MAPP Barriers Assessment


Analysis of a Defective Mand Repertoire
Many children with autism have
absent, weak, or defective mand repertoire
extensive tact and listener skills, as well as
other elevated scores on the VB-MAPP Skills
assessment
Not uncommon for child to engage in tantrum
or some other problem behavior as a mand
Word learned under SD control may not
automatically transfer to MO control

VB-MAPP Barriers Assessment


Analysis of a Defective Mand Repertoire
Distinction between SD and MO control not
part of many language assessment and
intervention programs designed for children
with autism
Many potential causes of defective manding
so functional analysis needed to determine
cause for an individual child

The VB-MAPP Barriers Assessment


Potential causes of absent, weak,
or defective mand repertoire
Mand training not part of childs early
language training history
Target response form too difficult for the child
When a child has no or limited vocal behavior,
sign language or PECS has not been tried
High response requirement weakens the
relevant MO
No current MO in effect for targeted item

The VB-MAPP Barriers Assessment


Potential causes of absent, weak,
or defective mand repertoire
Response is prompt bound by physical,
echoic, imitative, or verbal stimuli
A nonverbal stimulus acquires control of the
response and blocks MO control
A verbal stimulus acquires control of the
response and blocks MO control
Motivation (MO) does not control the
response form

The VB-MAPP Barriers Assessment


Potential causes of absent, weak,
or defective mand repertoire
Single response topography functions as the
mand (e.g., more, please, that)
Cant establish differential response
topographies
Scrolling gets reinforced
Not enough mand trials are provided each day
Poor audience control

The VB-MAPP Barriers Assessment


Potential causes of absent, weak,
or defective mand repertoire
Mands only required and reinforced in specific
setting
Generalization training is not provided
Verbal information does not function as
reinforcement for the child
Manding does not come under control of natural
contingencies
History of punishment for attempts at manding

The VB-MAPP Barriers Assessment


Analysis of a Defective Tact Repertoire
Tact less susceptible to becoming defective than
mand or intraverbal, due in part, to nature of tacts
controlling variables
Nonverbal stimulus control more measurable and
accessible, in general, much clearer than
motivational control (mand), and verbal stimulus
control (intraverbal)
Often the case that the wrong nonverbal stimulus
acquires control of a tact
For example, when teaching tacts related to verbs,
the goal is that the specific moving nonverbal
stimulus evokes a specific response, not the object
related to the movement

The VB-MAPP Barriers Assessment


Analysis of a Defective Tact Repertoire
Some children learn to emit a word that is a
verb in form but not in function, as in the
response Drinking juice when just shown a
cup, or Throwing ball when shown a ball
Similar problems can be observed in efforts
to teach tacts related to prepositions and
adjectives (e.g., Above and Below. Big and
little)
Gone unchecked, these tacting errors can be
difficult to change and can become the
source of other verbal problems later in
training, such as intraverbal rote responding

The VB-MAPP Barriers Assessment


Common causes of absent, weak, or defective
tact
Limited amount of formal tact training has
occurred
Other barriers such as instructional control
dominate the educational activities
Articulation is unintelligible, and augmentative
communication has not been tried
Tacting is prompt bound by echoic, imitative,
or other SDs (e.g., lip prompts)

The VB-MAPP Barriers Assessment


Common causes of absent, weak, or defective tact
Scrolling through targeted tacts gets reinforced
Single response tacts have been over
conditioned
Limited training with multiple SDs and multiple
response tacting
The wrong source of control is established (e.g.,
tacting verbs or emotions from pictures)

VB-MAPP Barriers Assessment


Common causes of an absent, weak, or defective
tact
Failure to analyze complexities of tacts
involving prepositions, pronouns, adjectives,
private events, social behavior, etc.
Verbal stimuli do not establish a feature of
nonverbal stimuli as an SD (IV/Tact combo)
Poorly sequenced curriculum
Generalization training is not provided
(stimulus and response classes)

VB-MAPP Barriers Assessment


Common causes of an absent, weak, or defective
tact
No spontaneous tacting due to additional
prompts in training (SD effect)
No spontaneous tacting due to aversive
variables present in training (MO-Reflexive)
Tacting not reinforced by natural or automatic
contingencies
The child has a punishment history for tacting
Excessive or inappropriate tacting gets
reinforced

VB-MAPP Barriers Assessment


An Analysis of a Defective Intraverbal Repertoire
Intraverbal behavior is most prone to becoming
rote
Task of directly teaching intraverbal behavior is
complicated and endless
Early intraverbal training pretty straight forward,
but by 3-4 years of age, a typical child acquires
1000s of different intraverbal relations
Most adults have hundreds of thousands of
different intraverbal relations as a part of their
verbal repertoires

VB-MAPP Barriers Assessment


An Analysis of a Defective Intraverbal
Repertoire
Contact with these verbal stimuli can evoke
numerous intraverbal response
Number of different intraverbal relations far
outnumbers the number of different mands
and tacts. The frequency of mands may be
greater than intraverbals, but often the
mands are related to a relatively small set
of MOs

VB-MAPP Barriers Assessment


An Analysis of a Defective Intraverbal Repertoire
Many children with autism have great difficulty
acquiring meaningful intraverbal behavior. Some
have acquired 100s of tacts and LDs, but no more
than a few simple intraverbal relations
Tacting, imitation, echoic, matching, LDs, textual,
and transcriptive have degree of sameness that
may come easier for children with autism than
intraverbal behavior
Not only are antecedents for these repertoires
more consistent and clearer, but also response is
frequently the same (A spoon is usually Spoon, 2
is always Two)

VB-MAPP Barriers
Assessment
An Analysis of a Defective Intraverbal Repertoire
Intraverbal relations involve constantly
changing SDs and responses
For example, a tree is always a tree for echoic,
tacting, matching, etc., but discussion about
trees can be comprised of hundreds, if not
thousands, of different intraverbal relations
Furthermore, discussion about trees wont
occur exactly the same way each time
However, this type of defective intraverbal
behavior not uncommon for some high
functioning individuals with autism, and
especially those with Aspergers

VB-MAPP Barriers Assessment


An Analysis of a Defective Intraverbal
Repertoire
Verbal SDs usually much more complicated
than the nonverbal SDs; have multiple
components, in brief time frame
Multiple words as SDs almost always involves
verbal conditional discriminations
Vocal verbal stimuli are transitory, nonverbal
stimuli more static
Attending to verbal SDs often more laborious
than to nonverbal SDs

VB-MAPP Barriers Assessment


An Analysis of a Defective Intraverbal
Repertoire
Visual stimuli may block the establishment
of control by verbal stimuli
Many words that are not clearly evoked by a
corresponding nonverbal stimulus (e.g., the,
a, cant, usually, if, its, for, of, anyway,
whatever) but form the VCDs
is often shaped to include only the salient
information
IV responses typically more complex than
tact responses

VB-MAPP Barriers Assessment


An Analysis of a Defective Intraverbal
Repertoire
The MLU of a tact tends to be much shorter
than the MLU for an intraverbal
There is often only so much that can be
said about a specific nonverbal stimulus
(e.g., the tact bike vs, IV story about a bike)
The tact response is often shaped to include
only the salient information

VB-MAPP Barriers Assessment


Common causes of an absent, weak,
or defective intraverbal repertoire
Child has not received formal intraverbal
training
Child is given training, but its to early to focus
on intraverbals
Childs echoic repertoire is too strong (echolalia)
Nonverbal stimuli control response form (tact
prompt bound)
MOs control response forms (strong IVs on
favorite topics)

VB-MAPP Barriers Assessment


Common causes of an absent, weak,
or defective intraverbal repertoire
Intraverbal curriculum is out of developmental
and behavioral sequence
Rote intraverbal responses have been firmly
established due to conditioning history
Out of context or irrelevant intraverbal training
may establish odd forms of IV behavior
Single verbal stimuli and single verbal
responses have been over conditioned

VB-MAPP Barriers Assessment


Common causes of an absent, weak,
or defective intraverbal repertoire
Specific target responses are not in childs
repertoire as tacts, LDs, or LRFFCs
Child doesnt attend to multiple verbal stimuli
(S-deltas)
Child does not have sufficient training on verbal
conditional discriminations
Verbal stimulus classes have not been
established

VB-MAPP Barriers Assessment


Common causes of an absent, weak,
or defective intraverbal repertoire
Verbal response classes have not been
established
Poor audience control
No automatic reinforcement for IV behavior
A punishment history for intraverbal behavior
An extinction history for intraverbal behavior

VB-MAPP Barriers Assessment


An Analysis of a Defective Listener Repertoire
Listeners behavior involves several
independent repertoires
Listener as audience for others verbal
behavior
Listeners nonverbal behavior evoked by
others words
Listeners covert verbal behavior evoked by
others words (this part is actually speaker
behavior, but commonly and erroneously
referred to as listener, or receptive, behavior.

VB-MAPP Barriers Assessment


Common Causes of an Absent, Weak, or
Defective Listener Repertoire
Others speech doesnt function as
conditioned reinforcer
Others speech doesnt function as an SD for
attending
Child doesnt reinforce others VB
Child doesnt mediate reinforcement for
others VB

VB-MAPP Barriers Assessment


Common Causes of an Absent, Weak, or
Defective Listener Repertoire
Child has not become an SD for certain verbal
behavior from others
Child has not received formal listener
training
Scrolling get reinforced in listener training
Inadvertent prompts control correct
responses (eye gazes, position, hand
placement)

VB-MAPP Barriers Assessment


Common Causes of an Absent, Weak,
or Defective Listener Repertoire
Child has a weak conditional discrimination
repertoire
Verbal stimuli does not evoke scanning (or
attending to the array
Child has been over conditioned with limited
array
Child has been over conditioned with single
stimulus and single response

VB-MAPP Barriers Assessment


Common Causes of an Absent, Weak,
or Defective Listener Repertoire
Generalization training has not provided
(stimulus and response classes
Child stims with the materials
No LRFFC training has been provided
The curriculum is poorly sequenced

VB-MAPP Barriers Assessment


Common causes of absent, weak, or defective
visual perception and matching to sample
repertoire
Child may have some type of vision impairment
Child has not received formal training on visual
discrimination tasks
Adults have poor instructional control
Child stims with materials
Targeted visual tasks are out of developmental
sequence (curriculum)

VB-MAPP Barriers Assessment


Common causes of absent, weak, or defective
visual perception and matching to sample
repertoire
Child is prompt bound by position, body
movement, eye or pointing prompts, etc.
There is a reinforcement history for position
preference, or specific response patterns
Scrolling behavior gets reinforced
A verbal consequence like No is really an SD
to pick another item

VB-MAPP Barriers Assessment


Common causes of absent, weak, or defective
visual perception and matching-to-sample
repertoire
If no reinforcement is provided for first
selection, the child quickly selects another item
There is a failure to scan visual arrays and
comparisons efficiently
There is a failure to make conditional
discriminations
Over conditioning with a small array (limited
array variation)

VB-MAPP Barriers Assessment


Common causes of absent, weak, or defective
visual perception and matching-to-sample
repertoire
Task is too easy because the comparison stimuli
are very different from each other
Limited training with large arrays, scenes, and
arrays in the natural environment
Limited training with similar stimuli in the array
Limited training with large arrays and similar
stimuli in scenes and in the natural
environment

VB-MAPP Barriers Assessment


Common causes of absent, weak, or defective
echoic
Physiological variables (e.g., weak muscle
control, severe illnesses, cerebral palsy)
Little or no training or encouragement of
echoic responding has been provided
Weak automatic reinforcement for echoic and
vocal behavior
Possible automatic punishment (or other forms
of punishment) for vocal behavior

VB-MAPP Barriers Assessment


Common causes of absent, weak, or defective
echoic
Child demonstrates low rate babbling or vocal
play
Adults have poor instructional control
Vocal self-stimulation interferes with echoic
development
Child has weak MOs for social interaction with
other people
Child doesnt attend to vocal stimuli

VB-MAPP Barriers Assessment


Common causes of absent, weak, or defective
echoic
Targeted vocal sounds, blends, and words are
out of developmental sequence
Child has an aversive (failure) history
regarding attempts to teach echoic behavior
Generalization training has not been provided
Repertoire too strong (echolalia, prompt
bound)
Automatic reinforcement for out-of-context
verbal responses (Delayed echolalia)

VB-MAPP Barriers Assessment


Potential causes of scrolling
Responses that are first trained are not
completely acquired (weak SD control)
Failure to identify that scrolling is occurring
The response is actually under a specific type
of prompt rather than the target SD
The amount of discrimination training is
insufficient

VB-MAPP Barriers Assessment


Potential causes of scrolling
New words/signs are added too quickly
Scrolling gets intermittently reinforced
New stimuli and new responses are too
similar
For mands, new MOs and specific
reinforcement are similar to the earlier ones

VB-MAPP Barriers Assessment


Potential causes of scrolling
Maintenance and generalization trials are
insufficient
Failure to reinforce first wrong response
evokes the next response
Curriculum is out of sequence
Scrolling is less work than discriminating

VB-MAPP Barriers Assessment


Instructional control/non-compliance
(escape and avoidance)
Many children with autism have learned ways to
avoid or terminate demands placed upon them.
These behaviors range from mild (e.g., looking
away or not responding) to severe (e.g.,
aggression and self-injury).
Behaviors function is often to escape from things
they dont want to do (e.g., hair brushing, car
seats, instructional demands), or stimuli indicating
unwanted activities are coming (avoidance) (e.g.,
bedtime, turning off the TV, table tasks)
These behaviors are common in typically
developing children, but can become quite severe
for a child with autism

VB-MAPP Barriers Assessment


Instructional control/non-compliance
(escape and avoidance)
There are a number of potential causes for
instructional control problems. It is the job
of the behavior analyst conduct a
descriptive and/or functional analysis to
determine the specific cause for each
individual child

VB-MAPP Barriers Assessment


Potential causes of noncompliant behaviors
Avoidance or escape of the demand is
(negatively) reinforced (not followed through)
The child has a long history of successful
avoidance and escape behavior
Extinction bursts are reinforced
Intermittent reinforcement develops
persistence

VB-MAPP Barriers Assessment


Potential causes of noncompliant
behaviors
Positive reinforcement also follows
the negative behaviors
Not enough reinforcement is provided
for compliance
Effective reinforcers are not identified,
or they cannot compete with negative
reinforcement
Demand is too high (e.g., task
expectations and curriculum issues)

VB-MAPP Barriers Assessment


Potential causes of noncompliant behaviors
Demands are unclear or vague
Demand requires that child give up
powerful reinforcers
Demands are in the form of threats
(coercive)
Steps to successful compliance are too
large
Intervention program is inconsistent

Thank You!
For more information on verbal
behavior and links to other
material go to:
www.marksundberg.com