Mand Training: Teaching Basic Requesting Skills


  • Review communication skills and discuss why some patients, students or clients may need assistance.
  • Discuss prerequisite skills to requesting
  • Review how to teach vocal requesting with clients
  • Discuss the skills that follow basic requesting

Language Delays

  • It is common for clients with ASD to have language delays
  • The ability to speak or communicate directly impacts many areas of a clients life, such as the ability to have conversations being impaired, asking for things–even basic needs
  • Playing with peers
  • Accessing help when they need it

When a client has language delays, the ABA program will always include programs to:

  • Teach the client to communicate
  • Increase the child’s language skills
  • Refine a teenager’s social language
  • Improve the patient’s skills so they can ask for what they need first and foremost. A functional way to communicate. i.e., I’m hungry, tired, sick, cold, etc.
  • Build skills so that the adult can have a more refined conversation with others

B.F. Skinner

  • One of the most influential psychologists of the last century
  • Wrote Verbal Behavior, 1957 – proposing that language is a behavior that can be increased and decreased just like any other behavior.

What is verbal behavior?

  • Skinner classified language as simply another form of response, or “behavior” that we engage in.
  • Language acquisition can be influenced by environmental events

What does this mean for students who have language delays?

  • In Verbal Behavior, language is classified by its function (how its used) rather than by its form (word label). In other words by approaching it at its most basic function, its purpose–to communicate and not so much its form.

Why is Skinner’s Analysis of Verbal Behavior useful or important?

  • Acquiring language is more than learning, “the meaning of words”, it’s more than just adding more and more labels to my vocabulary its making sure that I know “how” to use the language.
  • We cannot assume that once an individual has learned “the meaning” of a word that they will use it in a functional way. This is found commonly with learners who have autism, that they have an ability to learn a wide variety of words and their meanings but that they are unable to translate that word bank into functionally useful communication

How does this apply to students with ASD or other language delays?

  • One of the core deficits of autism for example is a delay in communication skills and this may mean different things for different students at different levels or who manifest their symptoms of ASD in different ways:
    • Some learners are non-vocal or have no speech sounds to communicate
    • Individual unable to point to what they need or want
    • Has speech but does not know how to use it to get what they need or want
    • Has limited ability to request, and further hindered by complex details

For many individuals with ASD or other language delays, the use of a particular word does not often spontaneously transfer across categories of function

  • An individual may know what an item is called, but does not use that word to communicate a need or engage in a conversation about that topic. Such as a child being able to identify/name a ball, but being unable to ask for a ball when they need one to go outside and play soccer with it.

So when approaching language it must be taught as more than just the “name/label” of an item. Rather learners with language delays must be taught to use language for a variety of purposes. So instead of just teaching the learner how to identify a ball upon seeing a ball, the learner must also be taught how to use the word with purpose, i.e, that is a ball, may I have the ball, balls are interesting. This means that language must be taught across a variety of functions and in a variety of situations.

What are some of the Main Purposes of Language?

  • Requesting
  • Commenting
  • Answering Questions
  • Asking Questions
  • Sharing Information
  • Having Conversations

How does a Functional Approach Help?

  • If we look at the function of language, we can increase a student’s use of language by using reinforcement
  • We can influence a behavior by manipulating:
    • The antecedent (what happens before a behavior)
    • The consequence (what happens as a result of the behavior)

Key Definitions:

Behavior: Is anything that someone says or does

Verbal Behavior: Anything that a person does that has a communicative intent. To communicate something to enact a response to another person. Language being used to communicate to another person to get needs met.

Verbal does NOT equal VOCAL
Sign language, gestures, iconic communications and voice output devices, iPads, can all be examples of verbal behavior if the reinforcer is mediated by the listener (Verbal, not vocal) 

Clients who do not speak are Non-Vocal
A client who uses an iconic communication system may be non-vocal (because they do not say anything) but they can engage in verbal behavior because they exchange pictures and get their needs met through this communication by another person (reinforcer mediated by another person)

Reinforcer: A stimulus, when added or removed, increases the future likelihood of that response

Who Needs to Be Able to Request:

  • Essentially-Everybody
  • IBT has established that many students with ASD or other developmental delays have delayed language
  • One of the most basic skills for anyone is to be able to communicate needs (thirst, hunger, cold, hot, etc.)
  • So EVERY student, client, patient, NEEDS to be able to make their needs known; whether this is vocally, or verbally through sign-language, communications devices or with icons.

When is Training Needed?

When do we decide that a specific individual is in need of training to learn how to request?

  • The BCBA on the case is responsible for determining when the learner needs a communication program (And this is done through intensive questioning, assessment and observation of the learner and those closest to the learner)
  • It is important to understand the specific needs of each learner and whether intensive training is required to teach them how to request and programs will thus look different for each individual learner
  • Traditional standardized assessments help determine if a language delay exists, however they may not reveal a specific area of deficit according to the functions of language

How do we Know What the Learner’s Deficit’s Are?

  • In recent years, there have been several behavioral language assessments that more closely examine language by its function
  • These assessments may help to reveal the specific deficits each learner has
  • The BCBA will determine whether or not these assessments are needed and which assessments will be conducted if indeed they determine the need
  • Therapists/RBTs may be asked to assist with these additional functional language assessments (the BCBA however remains fully in charge of the actual assessment process)

Example Assessments the RBT may See:

Basic Repertoire Assessment: 

  • The Behavioral Language Assessment, Sundberg and Partington – Quickly gives a starting point for beginning communication skills

Comprehensive Skill Assessments:

  • SKILLS, comprehensive assessment and curriculum analysis developed by CARD – goes through all of the different functions at different levels and assesses varying levels of need
  • ABLLS-R, skill assessment developed by Sundberg and Partington -goes through all of the different functions at different levels and assesses varying levels of need
  • VBMAPP, skill assessment developed by Mark Sandberg -goes through all of the different functions at different levels and assesses varying levels of need

Mand Training

Once it has been determined that a learner requires training in the area of requesting, appropriate teaching strategies can be designed by the BCBA and implemented by the RBT/Therapist’s.

Taking a Closer Look at the Mand:

  • Earliest form of requesting
    • babies cry for food, changing, comfort, etc.
  • In typically developing children the mand response develops on its own quite rapidly, and the mand response naturally becomes more sophisticated as the child gets older.
    • A typical 3 year old emits 20,000 words per day,
  • However many individuals with ASD often have inappropriate requesting skills, due to a lack of communication and/or social skills manifesting in ways such as screaming for juice, profanity used to gain attention, tantrums, etc.
  • Or, we may see one mand being used for “every” request. Meaning that “I want some” could mean, I want juice, I want a favorite toy, or I want a snack and mom has to visually present all three to see what the child actually wants.
  • Therefore, one of the first skill targets we may need to teach a learner is to “mand” appropriately.
    • Even learners who are able to talk may not be able to mand appropriately!
    • So remember, even if a learner has learned to say and recognize many words they may not be able to make a simple request for “juice”

Skinner gave this “demand” behavior the name “mand”, it is a request for some “thing” and this “thing” or “reinforcer” is delivered by another person.

  • When the baby cries, the parent provides the bottle, the fresh diaper, the comfort, etc.

Mand: A mand is a verbal response that occurs when an individual is motivated for a particular item or event, and results in the individual gaining that item. In laymen’s terms, the mand is a request–a communication exchange that results in the need of one person being met by the providing of that need through another

  • The mand is controlled by a person’s motivation— in other words what control’s my requesting is what I want. If I am thirsty I want a drink. If I am hungry I want food. Etc.
  • Motivation can either increase or decrease one’s desires for certain things. In other words after eating food no longer motivates a person to request more food. After drinking one is no longer motivated to request more drinks, etc.
  • What are common motivations that control manding/requesting?
    • Deprivation (hunger, thirst, lack of attention, lack of access to something toys, activities, etc.)
    • Satiation (being full, too much attention, wanting something to end)

When motivation increases it makes certain things reinforcing:

  • I am hungry so now food is reinforcing.
  • I am tired so now a break is reinforcing.

When motivation decreases it makes certain things less reinforcing:

  • I am hot, so now having a sweater is not reinforcing and therefore I am not motivated to request one

It makes certain behaviors that have produced reinforcers (in the past) more likely to happen in the future:

  • I am thirsty: in the past when I was thirsty, I got a soda when I asked;  today I will ask now with my icon for a Coke.

It makes certain behaviors that have produced non-reinforcing items less likely to happen

  • I’m tired. I usually ask my mother if I can stay up a little longer after my bedtime to play with my toys. But today I am so tired, so this means that I will not ask my mother if I can stay up late.

What this means is that being motivated in one way or the other will lead to requesting behavior. And that certain things will be more reinforcing than others dependent upon the motivation at that time, thereby increasing certain behaviors to occur and decreasing other behaviors to occur.

Examples of Mand/Request Controlled by Motivation:

Motivation: Child is cold
Response: Blanket Please
Reinforcer: Parent gives child the blanket

The motivation of being cold is what prompts the response to occur and the reinforcement of receiving the blanket is what increases the likelihood of the behavior happening again in the future. Moreover, manding for a something is requesting of a specific item or a specific response, the reinforcer is usually that specific thing or item.

Why is Mand Behavior so Important?

  • It is essential that learners can make simple requests, to communicate their basic wants and needs
    • This will greatly decrease inappropriate behaviors (Carroll & Hesse, 1987)
    • This facilitates the learning of other language skills (Carroll & Hesse, 1987; Stafford, et al. 1988)
      • Meaning, if the child learns to mand, “Juice,” first then they will more quickly learn to say “juice” when their mom says, “what is this?”
    • As manding skill increases inappropriate behaviors decrease

Mand Training

  • Once the BCBA determines that a learner needs to learn requesting skills/manding than the BCBA will design an intervention to teach this
  • The BCBA should spend some time with the therapist to review mand training procedures
  • Once the RBT is familiar with general mand training, they will be more successful implementing this with learners
  • However, since each client is unique the BCBA will need to further explain how the mand training should be specifically implemented. And provide ongoing support.
  • In addition to assessment(s), the BCBA will do an observation, have a discussion with the parent/guardians and potentially interview the classroom teacher(s) and other professionals before determining how the student will be taught to mand/request.

Here are some of the important considerations:

  1. Vocal speech, icons, sign language, or written words?
  2. What should the learner be taught to request for?
  3. How to prepare and implement teaching strategies?
  4. How will data be collected?

Topography of Mands

  • One of the first things to consider is what type of mand response is most appropriate for the learner
  • In other words, how are we going to teach the student to request things? i.e., vocal, gesture, sign-language, icons, device assist, etc.
  • Remember, the BCBA will determine what type of request the learner will use
  • However, it is important for RBT/therapists to understand what the BCBA considers when making this determination

Questions the BCBA will Consider about the Topography of Mands

What will the mand look like? What is the BCBA looking for?

  • Does the learner have the ability to imitate sounds or use vocal speech?
  • Does the learner look at pictures, icons or words? In other words what draws their attention? Photographs versus drawings? Words versus pictures?
  • Does the learner have the motor abilities to grasp and release objects? To point?
  • Does the learner have the ability to imitate simple fine motor movements? In other words sign language.

If the learner is not yet imitating vocal sounds the BCBA will most likely start with some sort of non vocal requesting while working to establish the ability to imitate vocal sounds. This decision will be entirely dependent upon the specific and highly unique needs of each learner and their specific needs and abilities.

The Remainder of This Training is Geared Towards the RBT/Therapist Teaching Learners to Mand

Selection of Mand Targets

  • The BCBA will determine the form of Manding. Meaning whether this is vocal, iconic, sign… etc.
  • The BCBA will determine the specific requests/mand targets to introduce to the learner
  • These are some guidelines the BCBA will use when selecting effective and functional targets:
    • Initially, those first targets, mands should only be taught for highly preferred and frequently used items or activities
    • Picking items that are easily given and consumed
    • Choosing items that have a clear beginning and a clear end
    • Identify items that are relevant and functional to the specific learner
  • The BCBA may instruct the RBA/Therapist to:
    • Teach mands for specific items instead of generic words/phrases
      • “apple” and “cookie” instead of “eat”
    • Select a variety of targets, not limited to one category to avoid satiation
      • foods, toys, activities instead of 20 different types of just foods
  • The BCBA will eventually instruct the RBT/Therapist about how to choose future teaching targets for the student and when this happens the therapist should remember:
    • mands should be chosen for words that the learner is already able to say or make a close approximation for
    • to pick words that are easy to say and do not require much effort (“nana” for “banana”)
    • watch out for words that sound alike at first (“ball” and “bell”)
    • Sounds or word approximations should be paired with items which closely resemble the actual word (“buh” for “book”)
    • Another consideration when selecting mand targets is that the BCBA can have parents/therapists and relevant individuals in the learners environments complete a reinforcer inventory to identify which items or groups of items will be motivating to the learner and thus become mands
    • Both items & activities will need to be identified to serve as reinforcer!

Training Preparation

  • The BCBA will provide training to the parents and the RBT/Therapist on how to support the parent on mand training and RBT/Therapists can support the BCBA in explaining how to implement the mand training for the learner throughout their every day environment
    • Basic terminology and techniques
    • What to expect
    • How to be helpful in this process (particularly in having certain items available or not available at certain times of day)
  • BCBAs and RBT’s will need to remind parents about:
    • The importance of withholding access to targeted items outside of the teaching sessions (because free access reduces or eliminates motivation for the item)
  • The RBT should organize the materials:
    • Organize target items so that they are easily accessible but so that the learner cannot gain access to those items
    • Have more variety than you think you will need in the event that “best guesses” of what will be motivating fail. (Sometimes those surprise items are the surprise motivators!)
      • Initially likely to be more food and drinks! As this is frequently what is most motivating and easy for RBTs to deliver and for the learner to consume
      • Eventually more toys and activities
  • The BCBA will encourage the RBT to build rapport with learner prior to training
    • Mand training may be one of the first targets that RBTs teach to the learner and it is important to have a rapport prior to beginning this training
    • Want the learner to see the RBT as fun/positive
    • Want the learner to pair you with reinforcers so that you the RBT become reinforcing in the learning process
    • Therapists will need adequate time to build rapport with the child/teen and participate in fun activities with the learner
  • This training is only one part of the RBTs introduction to mand training it is incumbent upon the BCBA to ensure the RBTs have further training before mand training begins with a specific learner
  • The BCBA will train staff by explaining strategies and demonstrating proper techniques (this can involve role playing -which can be fun and silly)
  • RBTs should be clear regarding expectations for mand training:
    • How often should it be worked on? Every session? Twenty minutes? Every two minutes? What are the specific requirements of frequency and durations of mand training for this learner?
    • What is the specific response the learner should give?
    • How to take data?
    • What are the preference assessment techniques?
  • The BCBA should give clear goals to RBTs for mand training that potentially include:
    • How often it should be worked on in the sessions, i.e., frequency/duration
    • The specific response(s) learners should give
    • What the RBT should do to shape responding
    • How the therapist should take data
    • How to do preference assessments with the learner
  • Preference Assessment Review
    • The therapist will need to conduct preference assessments throughout the session to determine what is motivating for the student
    • RBTs need to remember that the learner’s preferences will likely change throughout a given learning session
    • Particularly important to conduct a preference assessment prior to any mand training activity
    • Learners will lose interest in certain items throughout the day; RBTs must be ready to switch to anther set of reinforcers
    • General Notes on Preference Assessment:
      • Typically it becomes obvious which items is preferred
      • If the learner doesn’t identify any items as ones that they prefer, then the RBT is not working with items that are motivating at that time
      • In that case simply start over with new items
      • Remember, preferences change so assessment should be conducted frequently

Training Techniques

We will now look at a sample teaching strategy for teaching mand responses

  • This is just an example of how some clients may learn how to request using motivation, prompting  and fading of prompts (the actual prompts that are used, the sequence of prompt fading will change according to the needs of each individual learner)

Mand Training -Step 1: Begin with Impure Mand

This means that this is a request that is not solely controlled by internal motivation but by outside prompts and shaping that make it more likely that the desired behavior will occur.

Motivation: Initially the therapist may have to pretend to lick the lollipop, rustle the paper on the lollipop, or say “mmmmm” while pretending to lick the lollipop. This is the therapist trying to establish or contrive motivation, to tempt the learner into wanting the lollipop

Lollipop is in view: the lollipop will actually be present as a visual prompt or reminder to request the item

“What do you want”: the therapist may use this as a prompt to get the learner to request, as the vocal prompt in addition to the visual prompt to get the learner to engage and request for the item

“Say Lollipop”: the therapist prompts (echoic) the learner say lollipop

Response: learner says, “Lollipop”, therapist than gives the learner the lollipop (reinforcing the response)

Ideally, we want the student to learn the request when motivated and not need all of the other prompts (showing the item, asking “what do you want”, saying the name of the item, etc.) but initially, those things might be necessary so that the child learns how to request/mand, in other words what they need to do in order to gain access to the items that they want.

There are also different prompts that can be used to help the student learn to mand, and the following are a non-exahustive list of examples:

  • Pointing towards the item may be more appropriate than the verbal prompt, “what do you want?” Indeed, we may actually avoid asking the “what do you want” question so that the learner does not become dependent on being asked in order to seek what they need.
  • A textual prompt of the written word, “lollipop,” instead of saying “lollipop: if reading is a strength for your learner
  • Additionally, some prompts can be overused and may be difficult to fade, i.e., “what do you want” and we want learners to know that they can mand at any time not only when they are being asked for something that they want
  • Remember, you may need to accept approximations of “lollipop” according to the learner’s current speech abilities. And this approximation would be determined ahead of time by the BCBA

Mand Training -Step 2: Begin Fading Echoic Prompt

Now let’s look at how all of these prompts can be faded.

Motivation: Now we have all these motivations in place, the therapist may have to pretend to lick the lollipop, rustle the paper on the lollipop, or say “mmmmm” while pretending to lick the lollipop. This is the therapist trying to establish or contrive motivation, to tempt the learner into wanting the lollipop

Lollipop is in view: the lollipop will actually be present as a visual prompt or reminder to request the item

“What do you want”: the therapist may use this as a prompt to get the learner to request, as the vocal prompt in addition to the visual prompt to get the learner to engage and request for the item

FADING ECHOIC PROMPT Trial 2: So the first time the therapist said “Say Lollipop” Here in the second trial the therapist will instead use a partial echoic prompt and say Say Lolli”: the therapist prompts (echoic) the learner say lollipop

Response: learner says, “Lollipop”, therapist than gives the learner the lollipop (reinforcing the response)

FADING ECHOIC PROMPT Trial 3: So the first time the therapist said “Say Lollipop” In the second trial the therapist gave a partial echoic prompt and said “say lolli”, in the third trial the therapist provides no echoic prompt and says nothing, pausing to allow the learner say lollipop

Response: learner says, “Lollipop”, therapist than gives the learner the lollipop (reinforcing the response)

So the therapist should fade the imitation or contrived prompt. Just like with any fading procedure, this will have to happen carefully and systematically. In other words, the three steps shown in the above example may take longer and more variations to fade. This will be determined by the abilities of the child.

Mand Training -Step 3: Continuing Fading Verbal Stimulus

Continuing to fade out more prompts

Motivation: At this point the learner is now likely interested in the lollipop if the therapists are carefully conducting preference assessments and this item is still motivating–fade intentional attempts to get the client interested

Lollipop is in view: the lollipop will actually be present as a visual prompt or reminder to request the item

Fade Asking: At this point there shouldn’t be a “What do you want” if there ever was one in the first place

Response: learner says, “Lollipop”, therapist than gives the learner the lollipop (reinforcing the response)

So at this point the RBT is no longer asking the question, “What do you want”, if indeed they ever were. And the prompt is faded leaving only the learner’s motivation and the visual presence of the lollipop. This step is essential to ensure the client can initiate requests independently and spontaneously without prompting from another person.

Mand Training -Step 4: Fade the Non-Verbal Stimulus

Now the next step is to fade the presence of the non-verbal stimulus (in other words allowing the child to ask for what they cannot see, but want)

Motivation: A preference assessment has been done and the learner still wants the lollipop. The therapist shows the learner the lollipop and than hides it.

Lollipop is NOT in view: the lollipop is not present

Response: learner says, “Lollipop”, therapist than gives the learner the lollipop (reinforcing the response)

Mand Training -Step 5: Pure Mand

The last step.

Motivation: A preference assessment has been done and the learner still wants the lollipop.

Lollipop is NOT in view: the lollipop is not present

Response: learner says, “Lollipop”, therapist than gives the learner the lollipop (reinforcing the response)

Here, the learner is requesting because they are motivated to request, not because they are being prompted to request. And this is the goal of mand training, for learners to be able to request what they need independently and spontaneously that which they can or cannot see.

  • Some learners grasp manding lessons very quickly and simply need to go through the steps to grasp the process
  • Other learners have difficulty with the process and especially with items that are not in view and manding takes longer to master
  • When first learning how to request/mand, it is important that we give the learner what they want whenever they ask for it. Every attempt to mand must be reinforced. We want them to understand the power of their language. That instead of the inappropriate behaviors its their language that will get their needs met or their communication.
  • Later we can teach them to wait or that some items are not available right now.

Generalizing Mand Training

Generalization can begin very early in the stages of mand training.

  • In the initial phases of training, even on day one, ensure that the learner is required to “request” from several people (RBT, mom, grandmother, siblings, etc.)
    • Have different people take turns holding and presenting the desired item to the learner
  • Generalization also occurs in different settings
    • Plan for mand sessions to occur in various locations, and think about where in the learners natural environment would it be appropriate to mand and how to incorporate these environments into their training, i.e., school, playground, home, daycare, family, neighbors, etc. (Where it makes sense to mand for certain things in particular environments)
    • Create requesting opportunities within daily routines where the skill is most functional, i.e., snack, mealtimes, playtimes, self-care routines

***Manding should be worked on continuously. It is often not worked on enough and it is a critical skill and critically important to build a comprehensive manding repertoire for each learner***

Promoting Multiple Opportunities

  • Once mand training begins the therapists should provide multiple opportunities throughout the session for the student to ask for things
  • RBTs should remember to do multiple preference assessments and keep the learner interested in the available items
  • Just because the BCBA implements the mand training program does not mean that the learner will magically start requesting.
  • The therapists need to remember to be persistent, contrive situations throughout the session, and once the learner loses interest in one item–move to another item
  • The BCBA will set a goal for the therapist in mand training sessions
    • For example, Provide multiple opportunities for the learner to request. For Monday and Tuesday, aim for 20 requests per session
  • The Learner will not just request because the BCBA sets the goal. The RBT will have to be very intentional to get the learner interested in items and to manipulate the environment to promote requesting.

Mand Training Data Collection

Is the training working? Do adjustments need to be made?

  • The BCBA will provide data sheets for Mand Training Data Collection
  • RBTs will collect data every session during Mand Training and incrementally beyond for maintenance and generalization purposes
  • Eventually the parents may also be asked to collect data; however initially, the RBT will be responsible for this

Why is this data important:

  • To determine if what we are doing is working
  • To ensure consistency among therapists

It may be important to gather data on several components of mand training:

  • Rate of mand behavior
  • Variety of mands
  • Level of mand prompts required

As per usual, there are many different data sheets that could be used but the general information collected will remain much the same. The BCBA will determine which sheet to use, what information is to be collected and how that data will be summarized.

Beyond Beginning Mand Training

  • Typically, once the learner has learned to request for objects we will want to teach how to request for activities next
    • The BCBA will tell RBTs/Therapists what the next targets will be
    • The RBTs should remember that highly preferred actions/activities will be targeted first.
    • Data is collected identically for action mands as for item mands
    • Preference assessments NEED to continue, and evaluate which items are motivating for the student
    • It is tempting to try and teach items that are helpful for parents/therapists–for example “going potty” is useful,
    • HOWEVER, RBTs need to remember that unless the learner WANTS to do the activity, it is not the right time to teach that skill. Mand training is for teaching how to request desired wants and needs, for things that are immediately reinforcing and motivating for the learner. Potty training and other items may be taught but at a different time.
  • The BCBA will eventually add other mand targets into the program, make the mands more sophisticated:
    • This could include other categories, i.e., people, places, including advocacy language (teaching things such as breaks or requests for assistance), attention (such as look, or calling someone’s name), attributes (such as I want the “blue” cup, the “big” chair, the “fuzzy” jacket
  • The BCBA may eventually ask therapists to target the rate of manding with the learner.
    • Increased manding leads learners to have better fluency and imitation with others in daily life
  • The BCBA will set goals for the RBT/Therapist:
    • Contrive at least 20 mand opportunities per hour, 80 pure mands per three hour session
    • Remember that a typical three year old emits around 20,000 words per day

Advanced Mand Training Considerations

  • Once the learner is able to make their most basic needs met by requesting, there are many other relevant and appropriate areas of mand training that the therapy team can address
  • The BCBA will give RBTs instructions when it is time to make mand training more complex
  • Examples of future programming may include:
    • Mand Frames: ” I want a cookie”
    • Softened Mands: “I’d like a cookie, please”
    • Disguised Mands: “Ooo, that smells good”
    • In addition, more complex mands such as, a learner learning to point or to travel to various prepositional locations, such as, “in front”, or “next to”
  • Eventually, mand training procedures should be included that teach the learner to request using the more advanced concepts, “I want to stand next to Sam”


  • Teaching requesting to individuals with developmental disabilities can greatly decrease their inappropriate behavior and gives them the tools to make their requests known
  • Teaching mands should continue across different skills that should later extend to more advanced skills
  • The BCBA will make decisions about when to include mand training in the learner’s program and will give instructions about making the training more specific or advanced
  • The RBT and therapists can make a huge impact with the client as they provide the day to day teaching in the mand program

Learn More…

Teaching Play Skills

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