Verbal behaviour is B.F. Skinners analysis of language, which has been applied with the principles of behaviour analysis to accelerate language development in children with communication delays and disabilities including autism, PDD, aspergers etc.
Applied behaviour analysis with an emphasis on verbal behaviour focuses on various “categories” of language. Four of these verbal operations are described briefly below.
requesting items, actions, assistance, attention, or information. For example, a child says or signs “juice”, and an adult reinforces by delivering juice.
expressively naming something you see, hear, feel, smell, or taste. For example, a child says or signs “biscuit” when he sees one, and an adult provides some form of social reinforcement.
echoing what someone else says. For example, someone says “juice” and the child repeats the word, “juice”.
Speaking in response to someone else speaking. For example, someone asks, “What did you bake yesterday?” and the child responds, “biscuit.”
ABA programs that emphasize Skinner's analysis of verbal behavior often include the following elements:
• Use of assessment tools designed specifically to evaluate verbal behavior, such as the VB-MAPP, ABLLS, or ABLLS-R.
• Teaching procedures drawn from peer-reviewed behavioral journals
• Programming decisions made based upon analysis of data
• Strong emphasis on the development of functional, topography-based communication, such as speaking or signing
• A combination of natural environment teaching and intensive teaching trials
We are firm believers in the scientific method, it is important to separate procedures that merely sound good, make sense or feel right from those that actually produce positive change. Therefore parents must critically evaluate the evidence for effectiveness of a treatment approach and look to carefully conduct scientific research and beware of pseudo science. Research does consistently show that there is one approach which meets the scientific standard and more than three decades of research has shown to be highly effective – Intensive behavioural intervention based on Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA).