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The Verbal Behavior Milestones Assessment and Placement Program: The VB-MAPP


Mark L. Sundberg, Ph.D., BCBA-D

From the co-author of the ABLLS assessment tool, and the founder and first Editor of the journal The Analysis of Verbal Behavior, the VB-MAPP offers a new generation of the application of B. F. Skinner's analysis of verbal behavior to language assessment for children and adults with autism or other developmental disabilities. The VB-MAPP is a more refined version of the authorís previous work and presents a criterion-referenced assessment tool, curriculum guide, and skill tracking system based on applied behavior analysis (ABA), Skinnerís (1957) analysis of verbal behavior, and established developmental milestones.

The VB-MAPP provides a clear and accurate picture of the whole child, including the child's abilities, potential language and learning barriers that may be hindering progress, and the type of instructional model and educational setting that might best suit an individual student. The overall program contains the following five components.

The Milestones Skills Assessment - Assesses 170 milestones balanced across 3 levels of typical development (0-18 months; 18-30 months; and 30-48 months). The milestones are quantifiable and measurable and can be used to document baseline and learning, or used for outcome research. The milestones cover 16 key domains (e.g., mand, tact, intraverbal, visual perceptual, play, social, and early academic skills). One of the 16 areas, the echoic, includes the Early Echoic Skills Assessment (EESA) developed by Dr. Barbara Esch, SLP-CCC, BCBA-D.

The Barriers Assessment - Assesses 24 language and learning barriers that may be preventing a student of any age from making progress (e.g., prompt dependency, non compliance, behavior problems, impaired mands, demand weakens motivation, sensory defensiveness). The VB-MAPP Guide contains an analysis of the results from each of the 24 areas and general suggestions that can be used to help establish intervention priorities.

The Transition Assessment Ė Assesses 18 different areas that can assist the IEP team in making transition and educational placement decisions for a student (e.g., overall Milestones and Barriers scores, social skills, group learning, independent work, self-care skills, adaptability to change). The VB-MAPP Guide contains an analysis of the results from each of the 18 areas and general suggestions for types of educational services.

The Skills Task Analysis and Tracking System - Contains over 900 skills that support the Milestones. For example, for the mand 15 Milestones are identified for purposes of assessment, but the Task Analysis contains a total of 93 individual manding skills that can provide suggestions for daily mand training. Some of the tasks are earlier steps toward the targeted milestone, while others are additional skills that are independent of the milestones, but contribute to the overall development of the targeted domain. Also, VB-MAPP task analysis section contains a tracking system that can allow for the easy identification of which skills have been acquired.

Placement and IEP Goals Ė Suggestions for programming are presented for each of the 170 Milestones. This section describes how to analyze a studentís VB-MAPP in order to establish the most effective intervention program. For example, once a student reaches a specific Milestone, whatís next? The focus is on establishing a balance among all the skills, establishing their functional use in the natural environment, promoting generative and spontaneous usage of the skills, and verbal and social integration with other children. In addition, a variety of potential IEP goals are presented for each section, at each developmental level.

What products from AVB Press are needed to conduct the VB-MAPP assessment?

Each VB-MAPP full set contains an individual studentís scoring Protocol booklet and an assessorís Guide. The Protocol contains all the forms necessary for conducting the assessment, along with a task analysis that provides further breakdowns of the milestones skills, as well as additional skills that can support the development of skills within a specific domain. The Guide contains the instructions for conducting the assessment, the scoring criteria, the interpretation of the assessments, and the Placement Guide and IEP goals. For those working with multiple students additional Protocols are necessary, but not additional Guides. The Teaching Language to Children with Autism of Other Developmental Disabilities book describes the intervention procedures that can be used to develop the skills identified as weak or missing in the VB-MAPP.

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