Verbal Behavior Milestones Assessment and Placement Program (VB-MAPP)

June 11, 2021
This training series is being presented to our staff members, helping us to better use the VB-MAPP structure. There are now 4 sessions posted.  Please scroll down to read the first which was published in late May. 
We’re thankful to this team for providing this session for us and to the trainers for writing up the following summaries to share with our audience. Readers can learn about earlier training presentations on topics like this by browsing our site. Please reach out to the presenters for more information.

Verbal Behavior Mapp Training 4. Posted 6.11.2020

Presented by Kelsi Brown, BCBA, Megan Defiores, BCBA and Ashlie Symer, BCBA, .

VB-MAPP Barriers Assessment – Author, Ashlie Symer

The barriers assessment is one of the five components included in the VB-MAPP. This assessment is a tool designed to identify and score 2 language acquisition barriers that may impede a learner’s progress. This assessment is to measure if a barrier or barriers exist. After identifying and analyzing a barrier, specific intervention can begin to address the area of the barrier. There are 24 barriers.

Each barrier is scored on a scale of 0-4.

⇒ (0) no significant barriers

  • No intervention necessary

⇒ (1) occasional problem exists

  • Monitor, no formal intervention needed

⇒ (2) moderate problem exists

  • Further analysis, possible intervention considered before it become worse

⇒ (3) persistent problem exists

  • In need of behavior analysis and formal intervention

⇒ (4) severe problem exists

  • In need of behavior analysis and formal intervention

If you’re interested in more information on the details of each barrier, contact your child’s BCBA. We’d be happy to share more information with you!

Sundberg, M. L. (2014). VB-MAPP Verbal Behavior Milestones Assessment and Placement

Program: a language and social skills assessment program for children with autism or

other intellectual disabilities: guide. Concord, CA: AVB Press.


Verbal Behavior Mapp Training 3. Posted 6.11.2020

Presented by Kelsi Brown, BCBA, Megan Defiores, BCBA and Ashlie Symer, BCBA, .

VB-MAPP Milestones Assessment, Level 1 – Author, Ashlie Symer

The Milestones Assessment has three levels; Level 1 (0-18 months), Level 2 (18-30 months), and Level 3 (30-48 months). Within each level, there are a variety of skills assessed for a total of 170 milestones. This week, we looked at Level 1: mand, tact, listener responding, visual perceptual skills and matching-to-sample, and independent play skills. The content is packed with information, which is why we broke Level 1 into sections. Each skill is scored as 0 points, ½ a point, or 1 point based off specific measurement that is outlined per skill.

  • Formal testing (T): specifically presenting the child with a task and recording the response
  • Observation (O): watching for the skill(s) to occur in any number of environmental situations, without any formal stimulus presentation on the part of the assessor. There is no time limit for this measure.
  • Either formal testing or observation (E): data are acquired by formal testing or direct observation of the child
  • Times observation (TO): target response must occur in a time-limited period, specified in milestone domains. Timed observations can be split up.
    • A timed observation of 30 minutes may be two, 15-minute timed observations.

Level 1 Mand: goal is to determine if the child uses words, gestures, signs, or icons to get needs met

  1. Emits 2 words, signs, or icon selections, but may require echoic, imitative, or other prompts, but no physical prompts (e.g., cracker, book)
  2. Emits 4 different mands without prompts (except What do you want?) the desired item can be present (e.g. music, Slinky, ball).
  3. Generalizes 6 mands across 2 people, 2 settings, and 2 different examples of a reinforcer (e.g. mands bubbles from mom and dad, inside and outside, a red bottle and a blue bottle).
  4. Spontaneously emits (no verbal prompts) 5 mands – the desired item can be present.
  5. Emits 10 different mands without prompts (except, What do you want?) – the desired item can be present (e.g. apple, swing, car, juice).

Level 1 Tact: goal is to identify where nonverbal stimulus control of tacting is strong and where it begins to weaken

  1. Tacts 2 items with echoic or imitative prompts (e.g., people, pets, characters, or favorite objects)
  2. Tacts any 4 items without echoic or imitative prompts (e.g., people, pets, characters, or other objects).
  3. Tacts 6 non-reinforcing items (e.g., shoe, hat, spoon, cat, cup, bed)
  4. Spontaneously tacts (no verbal prompts) 2 different items
  5. Tacts 10 items (e.g., common objects, people, body parts, or pictures).

Level 1 Listener Responding: goal is to identify a child’s ability to understand the words of others as measured by the child’s nonverbal behavior in relation to those words

  1. Attends to a speaker’s voice by making eye contact with the speaker 5 times.
  2. Responds to hearing his own name 5 times (e.g., looks at the speaker).
  3. Looks at, touches, or points to the correct family member, pet, or other reinforcer when presented in an array of 2, for 5 different reinforcers (e.g., Where’s Elmo?, Where’s mommy?)
  4. Performs 4 different motor actions on command without a visual prompt (e.g., Can you jump?, Show me clapping.)
  5. Selects the correct item from an array of 4, for 20 different objects or pictures (e.g., Show me cat., Touch shoe).

Level 1 Visual Perceptual Skills and Matching-to-Sample: goal is to identify the strength of the child’s visual perceptual skills as they relate to a variety of tasks

  1. Visually tracks moving stimuli for 2 seconds, 5 times.
  2. Grasps small objects with thumb and index finger (pincer grasp) 5 times.
  3. Visually attends to a toy or book for 30 seconds (not a self-stim item).
  4. Places 3 items in a container, stacks 3 blocks, or places 3 rings on a peg for 2 of these or similar activities
  5. Matches any 10 identical items. (e.g., inset puzzles, toys, objects or pictures).

Level 1 Independent Play: goal is to measure spontaneous engagement in behavior that is automatically reinforcing

  1. Manipulates and explores objects for 1 minute (e.g., looks at a toy, turns it over, presses buttons).
  2. Shows variation in play by independently interacting with 5 different items (e.g., plays with ring, then block, then ball).
  3. Demonstrates generalization by engaging in exploratory movement and playing with toys in a novel environment for 2-minutes (e.g., a new playroom)
  4. Independently engages in movement play for 2-minutes (e.g., swinging, dancing, rocking, jumping, climbing).
  5. Independently engages in cause-and-effect play for 2 minutes (e.g., dumping containers, playing with pop-up toys, pulling toys, etc.).

If you’re interested in more information, contact your child’s BCBA.

Sundberg, M. L. (2014). VB-MAPP Verbal Behavior Milestones Assessment and Placement

Program: a language and social skills assessment program for children with autism or

other intellectual disabilities: guide. Concord, CA: AVB Press.


Verbal Behavior Mapp Training 2. Posted 6.4.2020

Presented by Kelsi Brown, BCBA, Megan Defiores, BCBA and Ashlie Symer, BCBA, .

VERBAL BEHAVIOR MILESTONES ASSESSMENT AND PLACEMENT PROGRAM (VB-MAPP) – Author Kelsi Brown

The VB-MAPP includes 5 main components:

  • Milestones Assessment
  • Barriers Assessment
  • Transition Assessment
  • Task Analysis and Supporting Skills
  • Placement and IEP Goals

Within the VB-MAPP there are 170 measurable learning and language milestones to represent a sample of the child’s existing verbal and related skills.  Goals are divided into 3 developmental ages: Level 1 (0-18 mos.), Level 2 (18-30 mos.), Level 3 (30-48 mos.).  

Skills include verbal operants, listener responding, motor imitation, social/play, classroom/group, and early academics. 

Within these skill sets, 16 domains are broken down to target specific behaviors:

  • Mand: speaker asks for what he needs/wants, can be emitted to remove undesirable items or activities
  • Tact: speaker names things, actions, attributes, etc. within the immediate physical environment
  • Intraverbal: speaker responds to the words of others; involves talking about things 
  • Echoic: speaker repeats the sounds, words, and phrases of another speaker (or himself) 
  • Motor Imitation: copying the motor movements of others 
  • Reading: ability to identify what a word says (without understanding)
  • Spelling and Copying-a-Text: written, typed or letter-spelled responses copied from a verbal response
  • Listener Responding: understanding others’ words (verbal, nonverbal responses) 
  • Listener Responding by Feature, Function, and Class: ability to understand abstract words, phrases, and sentences based on what an item looks like, does, or belongs with 
  • Visual Perceptual Skills and Matching-to-Sample: visual observation and discrimination skills 
  • Independent Play: spontaneous engagement in reinforcing behavior (entertaining self without additional reinforcement) 
  • Social Behavior and Social Play: interactions with others (adults and peers) 
  • Spontaneous Vocal Behavior: vocal play and vocal babbling that expand into echoic, mands, tacts, etc.; strengthening vocal muscles 
  • Classroom Routines and Group Skills: basic/important skills such as lining up with others, direction following, self-help skills, or waiting; working and blending in with others in a group setting 
  • Linguistic Structure: articulation, vocabulary size, length of utterances, appropriate syntax, using modifiers and inflection 
  • Math: measurement, counting, identifying numbers (listener or tact), matching quantities 

Verbal Behavior Mapp Training 1.
5.27.2020 This training opportunity was presented to our staff members, helping us to better use the VB-MAPP structure. We’re thankful to this team for providing this session for us and for writing up the following summary to share with our audience. Readers can learn about earlier training presentations on topics like this by browsing our site. Please reach out to the presenters for more information.

Presented by Ashlie Symer, BCBA, Kelsi Brown, BCBA and Megan Defiores, BCBA.

Verbal Behavior Milestones Assessment and Placement Program (VB-MAPP) Part 1 – Author Ashlie Symer

The VB-MAPP is a criterion-referenced assessment tool, curriculum guide and skills tracking system. This tool is designed for children with autism and children who demonstrate language delays. It is based on B.F. Skinner’s analysis of verbal behavior.

The VB-MAPP is broken into levels by developmental norms. There are three levels; Level 1 (0-18 months), Level 2 (18-30 months), and Level 3 (30-48 months). Each level has skills that build on the previous level, making the progression of skills more complex as the child moves through the levels.

The VB-MAPP has 5 components to it. Each of these components identifies specific areas where a child may have deficits. At Crossroads Center for Children, we utilize the VB-MAPP to assess a child’s current skills and to project potential goals for that child.

  1. Milestones Assessment
  2. Barriers Assessment
  3. Transition Assessment
  4. Task Analysis and Supporting Skills
  5. Placement and IEP Goals

Using these components, allows us to implement the best programming for many of our students. Though this tool may not be appropriate for all students due to differing ages and development, it is one tool that we use.

Within each component there are specific assessments and tools used to identify skill deficits and strengths. These will be discussed in our upcoming trainings! Stay tuned!

Sundberg, M. L. (2014). Vb-Mapp Verbal Behavior Milestones Assessment and Placement Program: a

language and social skills assessment program for children with autism or other intellectual

disabilities: guide. Concord, CA: AVB Press.

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