Intro to Verbal Operants

This post is an excerpt of an informational session that Jason Cone, MA-LPA provided for some of our awesome ABA parents in May 2017. It's got some great information that breaks down verbal operants and familiarizes you with some of the language you'll see in your child's program. Enjoy!

Last month we talked about the basics of the Verbal Behavior Approach and in particular, mands (requests). As your children have ever expanding verbal behavior, it is vital to know and learn the other components of communication, or what we call Verbal Operants.

There are four basic Verbal Operants and they are listed below:

  1. Mand: Asking for reinforcers or information. Asking for “Mommy” because a child wants his mommy
  2. Tact: Naming or identifying objects, actions, events, etc. Saying “Mommy” because a child sees his Mommy
  3. Echoic: Repeating what is heard. Saying “Mommy” after someone else says “Mommy”
  4. Intraverbal: Answering questions or having conversations where the speaker’s words are controlled by other words. Saying “Mommy” because someone else says “Daddy and...”

Each of these are vital components to language development and it is important for your children to learn how to use the word ‘mommy’ in all of these contexts. If you do not know how this is being done in your child’s program, ask your therapist to tell you!

Sincerely, Jason