Health and Fitness

What is Mand Training in ABA Therapy?

ABA therapy has been widely used as a gold standard for treating children with Autistic Spectrum Disorder since the 1960s. Chicago ABA therapists make use of a variety of techniques in ABA therapy; Mand training being one of them.

This article is going to focus on Mand Training, and how it is used in ABA therapy.

What is Mand Training?

Mand training is basically a part of ABA therapy. A mand-model approach generally involves the teacher/caregivers themselves that work to Mandle (request) a specific response from a child.  Mand is basically a request for an aspect that is wanted and desired in a child, or such an aspect that is undesirable and not wanted.

Manding is one of the initial forms of communication that is naturally found in children and is found as early as birth. For instance, when a newborn baby cries for food or for his mother, the mand directly benefits the child himself and acts as a strong base for other important language skills, such as pointing towards certain aspects and identifying them.

The Mand-Model Approach in ABA therapy is somewhat identical to incidental teaching. The latter greatly works on the motivation behind the child in order to create an ideal environment to promote education and growth for the child. 

Moreover, in incidental teaching, the Chicago ABA therapist or caregiver will make use of toys that interest those children the most. 

Therefore, these high-interest toys greatly motivate children to ask for specific items to improve their communication and language and speech skills. This is why several research and studies have proven how Mand Model is very effective in teaching and developing certain language and communication skills in children who have Autistic Spectrum Disorder. Also, this teaching model takes place in a more naturalistic setting.

Mand-Model Structure

The structure of the Mand-Model Approach follows somewhat the same structure as incidental teaching. For example, relying on a certain area of high interest for a child, for instance, their favorite stuffed animal. 

In the Mand-Model approach, an ABA therapist will ask the child if he wants to play with the toy if the therapist sees the child looking towards it.  Therefore, the initial question “mand” is also known as a “yes-or-no” question. 

This is done to improve the communication skills of the child, and also to enhance the response skills of the child. As far as the response of the child is concerned, there will be three possibilities- no response, an incorrect response, or the correct response.

If the child responds correctly, they will be given a reward or positive reinforcement. This can be in the form of a toy, or sweets, or any area that is of high interest to the child, and will motivate him to work towards it again in the future. Also, in case the child either does not respond or provides an undesirable or inappropriate response, then the ABA therapist will construct a better and more appropriate response.

It is also important to know that a Mand-Model Approach is not used on its own in ABA therapy. However, it is usually incorporated in ABA sessions in order to help children build more expressive and receptive communication skills. 

Furthermore, this Mand-Model Approach in ABA therapy, because of its versatility,  is mostly used by ABA therapists during therapy sessions, the child’s teachers during the school day, and even the child’s own parents back at the home.

Why Manding is important?

There are numerous reasons why manding is highly crucial for children. Let’s take a look at why being able to communicate with others is of great importance, especially when it comes to children with Autistic Spectrum Syndrome:

Firstly, if we talk about an autistic child who cannot request things that they want. It will result in more aggressive and problematic behaviors. 

This is because the child will ultimately have no other choice than to use their behaviors, which are in most cases inappropriate and not correct, in order to get what he wants or needs. 

Thus, the child will then showcase problematic behaviors in order to communicate to get what he needs. Such as agitation, inappropriate tantrums, property destruction, and so on. Thus, this is when the need for manding comes in to teach the child appropriate ways, especially communication. Speech, and language skills, in order to request certain things

In case a child is facing problems and cannot request what he wants or needs in a correct manner. It will greatly frustrate the caregivers of the children and even the parents. This is because such caregivers and parents will not be able to conclude what the child’s basic needs are. And what his problematic behavior is for. 

Problematic Behaviors

Such individuals will get frustrated, and question the child in ways such as “What do you want? Are you feeling sick? Do you want something to eat? Do you want to sleep? Are you tired? Are you hurt?”

Therefore, this is an extremely difficult and challenging way to live with such children. And this is when manding is most appropriate not just for the parents and caregivers of course. But most importantly for the child as well.

Lastly, if there’s a child struggling to request something he/she wants. That child will also struggle with social interaction with other individuals. 

In simple words, how will he communicate and talk to children of his own age? How will he request other children he wants to play with? How will the child let other children his age know he is tired of playing? And most importantly, how will the children of his age know what he wants? 

Therefore, such children will greatly face problems when we talk about social interaction. Because of this, these types of children often display problematic and destructive behaviors that can in most cases hurt other children. For example, the child can become frustrated when no one else will be understanding him. Therefore, they will end up pushing their peers down who stand too close. Or even snatching away toys from other children. 

Thus, manding can be used to fix such problematic behaviors in children. By making them learn important skills to improve and enhance their social interaction.

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