The first time I heard these words I was in a VB-MAPP training surrounded by (gasp!) special education teachers. That’s right! The district BCBA was teaching a room full of special education teachers how to conduct the VB-MAPP (shocking, I know). There is a huge debate about whether teachers SHOULD be allowed to conduct the VB-MAPP but that’s a debate for another blog post.
A mand is like a demand. Your toddler says “cup” you hand them the cup. Your toddler says “cookie” you hand them the cookie. It’s essentially the first step to advocating for ourselves. You can mand with a visual, you can mand with an IPad, you can mand with your voice. Teachers can and should teach students to mand for items, wants, and needs as it can help to drastically reduce behavior.
A tact is a label. Point to a cow and say “cow”, point to a horse and say “horse” point to a …. well you understand. This can also be done with visuals, an IPad (or other voice output device) or your voice.
An intraverbal can be a fill in the blank (you sing E, I, E, I *pause*, and your child yells “O”). It’s a conversation. You mand for information (What’s the name of that movie where….) and the listener responds (Aquaman!). Conversations can also be had via visuals, IPads (or other voice output devices) and voices.
After teaching us about mands, tacts, and intraverbals, telling us we could (and should) use the VB-MAPP to assess students, and that we SHOULD use the students form of communication for the assessment (visuals, verbals, voice output device). She did something else sketchy.
She asked us to collaborate with our Speech-Language Pathologists to help students manage and regulate their behavior. You read that right, a BCBA asked us (special education teachers) to collaborate with Speech-Language Pathologists to help students learn mands, tacts, and intraverbals and advocate for themselves.
You may have read through this post and thought that the tone was somewhat scathing and/or dramatic. If it sounded ridiculous it was meant to, these are the attitudes that Special Education Teachers and Speech-Language Pathologists encounter frequently from BCBAs. And that’s a shame. Because tacts, mands, and intraverbals do not belong exclusively to the field of Applied Behavior Analysis, they also belong to the science of Speech and the people who actively teach it every day.
Collaboration between BCBA’s, teachers and speech pathologists can only result in a student assessed for needs (BCBA and/or teacher); given a way to communicate (SLP/Assistive technology) and taught how to advocate for themselves (Teacher/SLP/BCBA).
When we collaborate, the student/client is the one who benefits.
Cooper, J.O., Heron, T.E., Heward, W.L., (2007) Applied Behavior Analysis Second Edition. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey, Columbus, Ohio: Person Merrill Prentice Hall