Mand Model in Pediatric ABA Therapy?

As you learn about the field of applied behavior analysis (ABA), it might seem overwhelming to keep all of the different therapy models straight. Now, we are going to add another method to your professional repertoire: the mand model or Mand-Model Approach. In ABA therapy, the therapist will work with the child to build important developmental skills, including language and communication. ABA therapy is an effective, evidence-based approach to behavior analysis, which is commonly used for children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), among other conditions. The Mand-Model approach can also be incorporated in ABA therapy to assist with developing language and learning skills.

What is the Mand-Model Approach?
The Mand-Model Approach can be used in ABA therapy in a way similar to incidental teaching. Incidental teaching relies on the motivation of the child to create an environment that promotes education and growth. In incidental teaching, the teacher or therapist will use high-interest toys to motivate the child to ask for that item using their expressive language skills. Studies have shown that this model is an effective way to develop language skills in children with autism. This teaching model also occurs in a natural environment.

The Mand-Model Approach follows a similar structure to incidental teaching, as it relies on an area of high-interest for a child, such as their favorite toy truck. In the Mand-Model approach, if the ABA therapist sees the child looking at this toy, they will ask the child if they want to play with the toy. This initial question is the “mand,” also known as a “yes-or-no” question. This is done to build the response skills of the child. There are then three possibilities for a response: no response, an incorrect response, or the correct response. If a child responds correctly, the therapist will provide positive reinforcement, and the child is allowed to play with the toy truck. If the child does not respond or provides an inappropriate response, then the ABA therapist will model the correct response.

While the Mand-Model Approach is not a stand-alone method of ABA therapy, it can be incorporated in ABA sessions for children to build expressive and receptive communication skills. The Mand-Model Approach is also a versatile tool that can be used by ABA therapists during sessions, teachers during the school day, or parents in the home. As with many aspects of ABA, the more practice, the better!

Do you think your child could benefit from the Mand-Model Approach or ABA therapy in Chicago?
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