ABA Info

 VB-MAPP (The Verbal Behavior Milestones Assessment and Placement Program) by Dr. Mark Sundberg. Available at AVB Press and Dr. Mark Sundberg’s website. The VB-MAPP is a criterion-referenced assessment tool, curriculum guide, and skill tracking system that is designed for children with autism, and other individuals who demonstrate language delays. The VB-MAPP is based on B.F. Skinner’s (1957) analysis of verbal

 VB-MAPP (The Verbal Behavior Milestones Assessment and Placement Program) by Dr. Mark Sundberg.
Available at AVB Press and Dr. Mark Sundberg’s website.

The VB-MAPP is a criterion-referenced assessment tool, curriculum guide, and skill tracking system that is designed for children with autism, and other individuals who demonstrate language delays. The VB-MAPP is based on B.F. Skinner’s (1957) analysis of verbal behavior, established developmental milestones, and research from the field of behavior analysis. There are five components of the VB-MAPP, and collectively they provide a baseline level of performance, a direction for intervention, a system for tracking skill acquisition, a tool for outcome measures and other language research projects, and a framework for curriculum planning. Each of the skills in the VB-MAPP is not only measurable and developmentally balanced, but they are balanced across the verbal operants and other related skills. For example, many aspects of an intraverbal repertoire are based on an existing tact and listener repertoire. The VB-MAPP balances the curriculum in an attempt to avoid the common trap of developing rote responding due to deficiencies in the related verbal repertoires.

  • The first component is the VB-MAPP Skills Assessment. This part of the assessment is designed to provide a representative sample of a child’s existing verbal and related skills. The assessment contains 170 milestones balanced across the verbal operants and 3 developmental levels (0-18 months, 18-30 months, and 30-48 months). The skills assessed include the mand, tact, echoic, intraverbal, listener, motor imitation, independent play, social and social play, visual perceptual and matching-to-sample, linguistic structure, group and classroom skills, and early academics. Included in the VB-MAPP Skills Assessment is a subtest developed by Dr. Barbara Esch CCC-SLP. Dr. Esch’s Early Echoic Skills Assessment (EESA) provides a detailed assessment of early echoic behavior. Dr. Esch’s many suggestions as both a Speech and Language Pathologist and a Behavior Analyst trained under Dr. Jack Michael have been invaluable to the development of the VB-MAPP.
  • The second component is the VB-MAPP Barriers Assessment, which provides an assessment of 22 common language and learning barriers faced by children with autism and developmental delays. The barriers include instructional control, behavior problems, defective mands, defective tacts, defective imitation, defective echoic, defective matching-to-sample, defective listener skills, defective intraverbal, prompt dependency, defective generalization, scrolling, defective scanning, defective conditional discriminations, weak motivators, response requirement weakens the motivators, self-stimulation, defective articulation, obsessive compulsive behavior, reinforcer dependency, defective attending, and defective social skills. By identifying these barriers, the clinician can develop more effective intervention strategies and allow for more effective learning. The Skills Assessment along with the Barriers Assessment provides a solid overall view of a child.
  • The third component is the VB-MAPP Task Analysis and Skills Tracking System, which provides a further breakdown of the skills (the steps supporting the milestones), and serves as a more complete and ongoing language and learning skills curriculum guide. There are over 1000 skills presented covering the 16 areas of the VB-MAPP. This VB skills task analysis presents a new sequence of the verbal behavior curriculum that is developmentally balanced and represents over 30 years of field-testing and revisions.
  • The fourth component is the VB-MAPP Transition Assessment, which contains 18 assessment areas and can help to identify if a child has acquired the skills necessary for learning in a less restrictive educational environment. The assessment is comprised of several summary measures from other parts of the VB-MAPP, as well as a variety of other skills that can affect transition. The assessment includes measures of the overall score on the VB-MAPP Skills Assessment, negative behaviors, group skills, social skills, independence, classroom routines, play skills, toileting, eating, spontaneity, reinforcer effectiveness, natural environment learning, generalization, rate of acquisition, retention, transfer skills, self-care, and safety.
  • The fifth and final component is the VB-MAPP Placement Guide and IEP Goals, which correspond with the assessments above. The placement guide provides specific direction for each of the 170 milestones in the Skills Assessment as well as specific suggestions for IEP goals. The placement recommendations can help the program designer balance out an intervention program, and ensure that all the relevant parts of the necessary intervention are included.

The overall results of the VB-MAPP will provide valuable information that will serve as a guide for the development of an effective individualized language, social skills and learning curriculum.

Teaching Language to Children with Autism Or Other Developmental Disabilities by Drs. Mark Sundberg and James Partington.
Available at Behavior Analysts, Inc. and Different Roads to Learning.

Most children with autism or other developmental disabilities experience severe language delays or disorders. Teaching language to these children can be quite a challenge to parents and professionals. This book presents a state-of-the-art language assessment and intervention program based on B.F. Skinner’s behavioral analysis of language, and the extensive body of empirical research that supports Skinner’s analysis. The first section of the book provides information regarding preparation for language intervention, including a brief language assessment and a system to interpret the assessment in order to determine the best place to start intervention for an individual child. Section One also contains a chapter on augmentative communication and information on how to decide if it is necessary; and if so, which type might be the best for an individual child. Section Two focuses on the development of initial communication skills for nonverbal children, and Section Three focuses on teaching more advanced language and social skills. Section Four presents issues relevant to the implementation of a language program in a child’s natural and school environments. In addition, there are a variety of data sheets and skills tracking forms located throughout the book. (312 pages)

Assessment of Basic Language and Learning Skills by Drs. Mark Sundberg and James Partington.
Available at Behavior Analysts, Inc. and Different Roads to Learning.

The Assessment of Basic Language and Learning Skills (The ABLLS) is an assessment, curriculum guide, and skills tracking system for children with language delays. The ABLLS contains a task analysis of the many skills necessary to communicate successfully and to learn from everyday experiences. The ABLLS is comprised of two separate documents: The ABLLS Scoring Instructions and IEP Development Guide (The ABLLS Guide) and The ABLLS Protocol that is used to record scores for each child. The ABLLS Guide provides instructions for scoring The ABLLS Protocol and for completing the skills tracking grids for an individual student. The ABLLS Guide also provides strategies to assist parents, educators and other professionals to use the information obtained from the completed assessment protocol to develop an effective Individualized Education Program (IEP) for the child. The ABLLS Protocol provides both parents and professionals with criterion-referenced information regarding a child’s current skills, and provides a curriculum that can serve as a basis for the selection of educational objectives. The ABLLS Protocol also includes a set of grids that comprise a skills tracking system that make it possible to observe and document the child’s progress in the acquisition of critical skills. The ABLLS Protocol is only available as part of an introductory two-book set (The ABLLS Guide and The ABLLS Protocol) and to registered owners of The ABLLS Guide.

Assessment of Basic Language and Learning Skills-Revised by Dr. James Partington.
Available at Behavior Analysts, Inc. and Different Roads to Learning.

The Assessment of Basic Language and Learning Skills-Revised (The ABLLS-R) is a new revised version of the ABLLS™ that includes many new task items that were not included in the previous edition. There are numerous changes in the descriptions and criterion for individual task items, as well as in the sequencing of many task items. Individuals who have used the earlier version are advised to review the information regarding the changes. The ABLLS™-R Protocol and The ABLLS™-R Guide are two books in a series of publications from Behavior Analysts, Inc., that can help parents and educators with the process of identifying specific skills that should be the focus of intervention for a child with language delays. If you are ordering the ABLLS-R Protocol for the first time, you must first purchase the ABLLS-R Combo Set (which includes the ABLLS-R Guide & Protocol). This policy is necessary because of the substantial changes in tasks, criterion and sequences.

A Collection of Reprints on Verbal Behavior by Drs. Mark Sundberg and Jack Michael.

Available at Behavior Analysts, Inc.

This volume of reprints brings together research and analyses published by Sundberg and/or Michael and their collaborators over the past 15 years in journals such as The Analysis of Verbal Behavior, JEAB, JABA, Behaviorism, and The Behavior Analyst. The book includes sections on establishing operations and the mand, teaching verbal behavior to individuals with language impairments, teaching verbal behavior to nonhumans, topography-based and selection-based verbal behavior, automatic reinforcement and punishment, conceptual issues, research topics and reference lists. (302 pages.)

Mariposa School “Training Manual” by Tracy Vail and Denise Freeman.
Available at Mariposa School

This manual was compiled from handouts written by Tracy Vail and Denise Freeman and edited by Cindy Peters for Verbal Behavior Training Seminars July – October 2002.

Carbone CD Seminar Set by Dr. Vincent J. Carbone.
Available at ABA Toolchest.

Now available on CD, this comprehensive CD Seminar Set will describe the behavioral approach to teaching communication skills to children with Autism and other developmental disabilities. This approach is based on B. F. Skinner’s analysis of verbal behavior and the research of Michael, Sundberg, Partington, and others. You will learn how to: Conduct a Behavioral Language Assessment; Select the most appropriate form of communication for a child or adult, such as vocalization, signing, pointing to or exchanging pictures, or activating an augmentative device; Select the communication responses and supporting skills that should be taught first. The CD Seminar Set will include the recommended teaching procedures for children who have no formal communication skills, to children who are near conversational speakers. The CD Seminar Set will also describe and demonstrate errorless teaching, specific quick-transfer (prompting and fading) procedures, and the use of both discrete trial training in the natural environment and during intensive teaching sessions. CD Seminar Set includes over 7 hours of video instruction, contained on 7 CDs: 1. Introduction to Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) and Verbal Behavior; 2. Teaching Learner Cooperation: Part I; 3. Teaching Learner Cooperation: Part II; 4. Instructional Variables and Teaching Procedures; 5. B.F. Skinner’s Analysis of Verbal Behavior; 6. Selecting an Augmentative/Alternative Method of Communication; 7. Teaching Non-Vocal Learners to Talk

Teaching Verbal Behavior: An Introduction to Parents Teaching Language by Dr. James Partington.
Available at Behavior Analysts, Inc. and Different Roads to Learning.

Behavior Analysts, Inc. is extremely proud to announce a new addition to our publications, with the release of Teaching Verbal Behavior: An Introduction to Parents Teaching Language. This 50 minute video, narrated by Dr. Jim Partington, follows the first ten months of an intensive language intervention program conducted by the mother of Dani, a young girl diagnosed with autism. Dani’s progress demonstrates the importance of parents learning to capture their child’s motivation, as we see Dani’s family teaching her how to ask for items and activities that she enjoys (mand training). Dr. James Partington reviews the process for the identification of initial skills to be taught, and presents an analysis of effective teaching strategies. Dr. Partington additionally describes the progression of a language-based curriculum that focuses on the development of specific expressive language skills and other basic learner skills. Through the development of these skills, Dani, like many other children with language delays, gradually becomes more able to learn from less structured teaching activities. With Dr. Partington’s clear and systematic presentation, parents and professionals can learn the essential elements of programs like Dani’s, designed to help children with language delays be successful participants in the learning process.

The Early Learner at Home by Autism Teaching Tools™
Available at Autism Teaching Tools™

The Early Learner at Home is an intimate look at the curriculum of an early learner with autistic spectrum disorder. The teaching procedures used in the video are depicted with detailed explanations via diagrams, subtitles and voiceover. Examples of the teaching depicted include the following: requesting via picture exchange and speech, non-verbal social interaction, introduction to labeling (will go into more detail with later videos), teaching prepositions and actions, generalization, teaching via activities, requesting help, all done, waiting, sensory integration techniques including a full brushing/joint compression treatment, massage, labeling emotions, addressing problem behaviors, white boards for curriculum maintenance, beginning data collection, goal setting, gaining attention and maintaining motivation. Lastly, there is a brief section on prompt independence. The movie shows how [the family chooses] goals or make programming decisions and why. It is a good example of a child-first programming paradigm.

Evy’s Progress by Autism Teaching Tools™
Available at Autism Teaching Tools™

This video is a 22 minute glimpse at what [Evy] was like before diagnosis and therapy and what he was like 1 year and 8 months into therapy–including strengths and weaknesses. There is a brief tour of the toy/therapy room with a look at the white board system [used] to guide Evy’s natural environment teaching. Unlike The Early Learner at Home which goes into detail about curriculum, this video shows how [Evy’s parent captures] moments in simple daily routines and try to turn them into learning experiences. Evy was diagnosed with high functioning autism at 2 years old (HFA mainly due to his social abilities–his language abilities were classified at 3-6 month old receptive and 6-9 month expressive). His language use was classified severe (though vocal) on the ATEC. Evy had one year of strict Discrete Trial therapy, but then [the family] moved away from that style to incorporate a broader range of ABA teaching procedures, as well as successful techniques from other programs.

The Verbal Behavior Network
Available at The Verbal Behavior Network

The Verbal Behavior Network: Where those who are guided by the principles of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) that emphasize the teaching of verbal behavior to children with developmental disabilities. Share time saving documents & templates; View video demonstrations of best practice teaching procedures; Learn through “targeted and sustained” training; Create IEPs, program books & team web sites

“The History of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) and Verbal Behavior” Presented by Dr. Vincent J. Carbone.
Available at POAC

A brief online video clip discussing the development of the science of behavior analysis and its applications (ABA), including VB. (about 50 minutes.)

Suggestions for Implementing an Effective ABA/VB Program
Available at The Mariposa School.

A list of available resources on teaching verbal behavior to students.

Quick Tips Binder Set by Behavior Analysts, Inc.
Available at Behavior Analysts, Inc.

Like the study guides you might have seen for “essentials of chemistry” (or math or geography), or a really condensed version of Cliff Notes, these double-sided, laminated sheets include both an “in-a-nutshell” version of various behavioral teaching topics and guided exercises for training. Each QuickTip sheet has condensed readings on one side and suggestions for additional readings, with the second side filled with training exercises and “post-on-the-fridge” idea space – even a checklist for evaluating training skills for that topic. These short, focused guides are the perfect length for program team meetings, initial new staff training sessions, or training parents, grandparents, or anyone else involved in a child’s program. Durably laminated and hole-punched for easy placement in program binders, QuickTips are sure to become your standard reference for teaching stragies, as they have become ours. Our first series of QuickTips, on behavioral teaching strategies, includes the following topics: Reinforcement; Pairing (establishing yourself as a reinforcer); Instructional Control; Prompting and Fading; Shaping; Discrete Trials; Correction Procedure. QuickTips are available as single sheets or as a binder collection.

The Pocket ABLLS and The Pocket FFC
Available at The Mariposa School.

THE PROBLEM: Most Verbal Behavior programs emphasize the importance of keeping the focus on the child, not the data. Traditional methods for recording data in a notebook are:

  • Disruptive to the student focus
  • Bulky and awkward to handle during instruction
  • Time consuming to set up and manage
  • Difficult to carry over into the natural environment (NET)
  • Not conducive to timely exchange of information between teachers.

Another important emphasis is the use of transfer procedures to build new skills based on existing ones. This is often overlooked in home programs because there are so many separate goals.

THE SOLUTION: The Pocket-ABLLS and Pocket-FFC systems were designed to overcome these challenges. Data is captured on reusable cards which can be carried anywhere. In most cases, it is necessary to circle only whether a student response was prompted or independent. At a later time (when the instructor is not working with the student) this information is transferred to corresponding data sheets so that the program supervisor may review trends. By grouping related goals together on one card, it is easier for instructors to make sure that all relevant targets are taught before something is considered “mastered”.


  • Laminated, pocket sized cards are portable for use anywhere the child goes
  • Data can be captured quickly on cards and recorded later, so that the instructor’s attention is focused on the student
  • Important notes (techniques, insights) can be written directly onto the cards for other instructors to see
  • Helps to ensure that all targets are probed and taught each day
  • Provides a quick “snapshot” of current and mastered goals
  • Easy to make sure mastered goals are maintained by cycling through the cards

The Complete ABLLS Kit by VB Teaching Tools.
Available at VB Teaching Tools.

The complete ABLLS kit comes with teaching materials needed to administer your child’s assessment. The quality materials included can then be used for the IEP or home program you develop. This Kit is furnished with every material you will need for your VB program based on the recommendations of well-qualified VB consultants. The only materials excluded from this kit are reinforcers that are specific to your child’s individual needs and motivation. The kit is not only comprehensive, but user friendly. It comes in a handy embroidered rolling duffle bag ideal for easy transportation. Items are labeled separately with the corresponding ABLLS code to make assessment quick and easy. All kit materials come in clear plastic containers for clear organization and safe keeping.

Mark Sundberg’s website
Available at www.MarkSundberg.com

Vince Carbone’s website
Available at www.CarboneClinic.com

Various ABA/VB Training DVDs
Available at Establishing Operations, Inc.

Free Informational Autism and ABA Online Videos
Available at ChildNett.tv

Regina Frey’s terrific VB Wiki
Visit http://verbalbehavior.pbwiki.com/

Robert Schramm’s Knospe-ABA site, with Educate Towards Recovery
Available at http://www.knospe-aba.com/en/index.php

Mary Barbera’s The Verbal Behavior Approach
Available at http://www.verbalbehaviorapproach.com/index.html

Practical ABLLS Blog
Available at http://ablls.blogspot.com/