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Manding – What is That?

February 19, 2019

by Cynesha Hamilton, RBT

One time I was working with a parent who asked, “What is manding?” after reading over their child’s updated treatment plan. A lot of verbiage used in applied behavior analysis can be foreign language. Mand training is an essential verbal operant we often use with clients with minimal and delayed verbal language. A mand can be simply defined as a request or a demand. It is the only form of verbal behavior that benefits the speaker directly, as it gets them what they want. A huge focus should be placed on teaching mands first. The manding repertoire produces substantial changes in the development of vocalizations and language. Manding provides our clients with a voice and encourages spontaneous speaking. If you have heard the therapist say, “What do you want”, and the child says “water”, that is a mand. The child may have been thirsty so deprivation played a part in requesting a drink. Mands are typically based upon motivation (motivating operations) and is important to pair mand training with reinforcement. Pointing to request is relevant to mand training as it is another way for individuals with limited communication skills to obtain preferred items. It allows the child to let others know what it is they want which is beneficial to develop more functional communication skills. Another example of a mand is if the client mands for information such as “Where is my tablet?” In my experience increasing manding skills with a client reduces challenging behaviors. The importance of mand training cannot be overstated and in my experience the skills have been beneficial when working with individuals with Autism.

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