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What to Expect During Verbal Behavior Therapy

Therapist and child learn about what to expect during verbal behavior therapy

What is verbal behavior therapy for children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD)? If you’re a parent or caregiver, you may be interested in exploring this form of therapeutic care. You may want to consider it more if you know what to expect during verbal behavior therapy sessions.

Verbal behavior therapy involves a communication theory that treats language like any other observable action, a learned behavior that can be acquired, developed, and sustained by applying behavior strategies. Supporting language and communication development with behavior strategies doesn’t fit into many traditional language theories. However, it shares the goal of promoting more appropriate, consistent, and effective communication proficiency.

If you’re looking to try verbal behavior therapy near Boston, MA, contact Journey ABA today. Call 844.222.4513 or reach out to our team online.

What Is Verbal Behavior Therapy for Children with Autism?

Verbal behavior therapy (VBT) for children with autism encourages language learning through connecting words with their purposes — not just with what they mean. Children then learn that using certain words can help them get desired objects or results or communicate their own ideas.

Words of a language are classified into types, which can also be called operants. Each operant has a different function. VBT focuses on four of these operants:

  • Echoic: A repeated word, such as “Cookie!” after someone else says “Cookie!” This is an important function, as imitating helps with learning.
  • Intraverbal: Words used to answer a question, such as “123 Main Street” when asked, “Where do you live?”
  • Mand: A request, such as saying “Candy,” to ask for candy.
  • Tact: A comment used to draw attention or share an experience, such as “Car” to point out a car.

Is There a Difference Between Verbal Behavior Therapy and ABA Therapy?

VBT is based on the theories of behaviorist B.F. Skinner and the principles of ABA therapy. As a form of therapeutic care, ABA seeks to improve communication, learning, and social skills through reinforcement strategies. Many experts consider ABA therapy to be the most effective treatment for children with ASD or other developmental conditions.

In his published work from 1957, Skinner described his functional analysis of language. In the 1970s, behavior analysts Vincent Carbone, Mark Sundberg, and James Partington began adapting Skinner’s approach to create VBT. However, the strategies and techniques of VBT and traditional ABA therapy are similar.

VBT is highly supported in the ABA therapy field. VBT methods can be combined with or be part of ABA therapy programs for children with ASD, especially if the goals of the programs relate to communication or language.

What Should Clients Expect During Verbal Behavior Therapy?

VBT helps children with ASD focus on understanding the benefits of using language. However, VBT programs require anywhere from one to three hours of therapy per week. More intensive programs may need you to block off more hours to work with a facilitator. Therapists who provide VBT strategies to their clients are generally board-certified behavior analysts (BCBAs), special education teachers, or speech and language pathologists.

Each client has a unique skill set. Therefore, each VBT program is customized based on each client’s needs. The programming that’s used is typically based on the Verbal Behavior Milestones and Placement Program (VB-MAPP) developmental curriculum. VB-MAPP recommends that data be collected daily for each skill taught, including the number of skills mastered by a client each week. Mastered skills are also reviewed regularly throughout the VBT program.

Learn More About Verbal Behavior Therapy at Journey ABA

Are you interested in trying verbal behavior therapy near Boston, MA? Contact Journey ABA today by calling 844.222.4513 or reaching out to our team online.