Verbal behavior therapy (VBT) a motivator to learn language

Verbal behavior therapy (VBT) is a comprehensive language program for children and adults who suffer from delayed or disordered language. B.F. Skinner coined the term verbal behavior in 1957, however; the therapy was developed in the 1970’s by behavior analysts Vincent Carbone, Mark Sundberg, and James Partington after adapting B.F. Skinner’s approach.

Using the principles of applied behavior analysis (ABA), verbal behavior therapy (VBT) motivates children, adolescents and adults to learn language in an errorless way. The intervention focuses on the understanding of why we use words to communicate and how we connect words with their purpose. This type of therapy focuses on four word types; mand, tact, intraverbal and echoic. Each language type or operant serves a different function in terms of how a person communicates and VBT teaches each operant in order to help individuals on the autism spectrum understand that communication is powerful and produces positive results.

Verbal behavior therapy (VBT) begins with a comprehensive assessment. Average sessions consist of a minimum of one to three hours per week and take place in a range of settings. Parents and caregivers are trained to use VBT principles in everyday activities and interactions.

Key elements:

  • Heavy focus on the development of language
  • Errorless learning through immediate and frequent prompts that are later reduced once successful
  • Immediate reinforcement
  • Situations and instructions varied to sustain individual’s interest

Link to Autism Speaks Website for more information.