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The Verbal Behavior Approach


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Table of Contents

Introduction.1. Starting with ABA. 2. The ABCs of ABA. 3: Assessing Your Child. 4. Developing Reinforcers. 5. Manding. 6. Increasing and Improving Speech in Non-Vocal or Minimally Vocal Children. 7.Errorless Teaching and the Use of Transfer Procedures. 8. Teaching Receptive Language Skills and Other Non-Verbal Operants. 9. Teaching Verbal Operants. 10. Putting It All Together. 11. Teaching Toileting and Other Important Self-Help Skills. 12. Final Thoughts. Appendices. Subject index. Author index.

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Step-by-step guide on how to help children develop language and speaking skills

About the Author

Mary Lynch Barbera, RN, MSN, BCBA, is a Registered Nurse and a Board Certified Behavior Analyst, and the lead Behavior Analyst for the Pennsylvania Verbal Behavior Project studying the effect of Verbal Behavior Techniques in classrooms throughout the State of Pennsylvania. Barbera was the founding President of the Autism Society of America's Berks County Chapter, has worked with hundreds of children on the autism spectrum, and has extensive experience training a variety of professionals. She is the mother of a 10-year-old son with autism. Tracy Rasmussen is an award-winning journalist of over 25 years with a specialty in medical reporting. She has been a frequent speaker for the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill on issues of mental health.


"The Verbal Behavior Approach serves as a practical and thorough guide on the principles of using the Verbal Behavior Approach for children with autism. Difficult terms are translated into easy-to-understand layman's terms, which would be very useful for first- time learners and practicing clinicians unfamiliar with the Verbal Behavior Approach... This book will explain not only to parents, but also to Speech- Language Pathologists and other professionals how to reinforce and encourage communication from children with autism and other disabilities... This book is a "must have" for Speech- Language Pathologists interested in learning about and utilizing the Verbal Behavior Approach. A number of highly specific therapy techniques are presented as well as other relevant topics such as reinforcement and behavior. Packed with useful information and tips, this book is ideal for Speech- Language Pathologists across both clinic and educational settings. The information that is provided in this text is comprehensive, concise and practical and Speech- Language Pathologists will benefit from its wealth of resources included in the appendices. As the need for services with children with autism spectrum disorder continue to grow, Speech- Language Pathologists will require a concise, easy to read resource as this one to become familiar with this approach to effectively teach language to students with autism." -- International Journal of Behavioral and Consultation Therapy
"This book serves to educate family members exceptionally well on several of the most important concepts and foundational ideas of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA). Ms. Barbera does an outstanding job of explaining why the ABC's (Antecedents-Behaviors-Consequences) of behavior are so important to understand. She is especially good at explaining the importance of determining the function of challenging behaviors. This will help parents as they try to unravel the seeming mysteries of children's behaviors. She also clearly outlines how treatments must match the functions of behaviors, and how appropriate replacement skills must be taught to address the same function... the book is an excellent source of information on Applied Behavior Analysis and on Verbal Behavior. It serves to clear up some major sources of consumer confusion, most notably about Verbal Behavior's embeddedness within ABA. There are countless helpful and well-grounded suggestions for parents who are interested in using this approach with their children." -- Journal of Early and Intensive Behavior Intervention
"This book provides a friendly voice that will assist parents, educators, and other professionals in utilizing these techniques with children with autism. It is a must have for anyone who knows, lives with, or teaches a child with autism spectrum disorder." -- Kimberly Barnes, PhD, CCC-SLP, Speech and Language Pathologist
"The Verbal Behavior Approach is a wonderful book! I typically get glazed over with the intensity of ABA/VB. This was an easy read that provided clear-cut, practical information that families and professionals can effectively use." -- Traci L. Plunkett, Mother of a son with PDD-NOS
"This book accomplishes many things that few such works do-it pairs sound research with concrete examples; is accessible to the expert and novice alike, and touches the heart without sacrificing professionalism." -- Anne A. Skleder, Ph.D. Provost, Cabrini College
"As a dedicated and caring parent, Mary has demonstrated her commitment to all children with autism by writing such a thoughtful and useful book." -- Rick Kubina, Ph.D., BCBA, Associate Professor, The Pennsylvania State University
"Written with style, warmth and real know-how, Mary Barbera has managed to combine valuable therapeutic advice with her own eloquent story." -- Eustacia Cutler, Author of A Thorn in My Pocket: Temple Grandin's Mother Tells the Family Story
"An amazing book that combines detailed instructions for parents on how to get started using ABA/VB with a little bit of emotional support to let them know that they are not alone." -- Trish Cuce, Mother of a daughter with autism, teacher & consultant for children with Autism, Founder of POAC of PA
"An easy to follow guide that works. The Verbal Behavior approach is motivation driven, creating the desire to learn." -- Kathleen Ricca, M.Ed., parent of a three-year-old boy with autism
"One of the most valuable books for parents of children with autism since Let Me Hear Your Voice by Catherine Maurice." -- Mark Sundberg, Ph.D.,BCBA, Author of the VB-MAPP (2008)
"Barbera is not only accurate, but easy to understand... her personal experience in this area makes her explanations and instructions entertaining and easy to apply." -- Dr. Jack Michael, Professor Emeritus, Western Michigan University
"I taught a class on verbal behavior once a year for 25 years. How I wish I could have had this book during that time. It would have made my instruction so much more effective." -- John O. Cooper, Ed.D., Professor Emeritus of Education, The Ohio State University, Co-Author of Applied Behavior Analysis
"With clear, concise explanations and examples, heartfelt stories and helpful resources listed throughout, Mary has provided the community with a nice description of teaching verbal behavior. Every parent of a newly diagnosed child should own a copy of this book." -- Holly Kibbe, MS, BCBA, Establishing Operations, Inc.
"A succinct, intelligible tour of an effective intervention for autistic children through both speech and non-verbal communication. VB is a refinement of B.F. Skinner's pioneering work on language and operates under the conviction that expressive language is behavioral, rather than purely cognitive. Barbera takes Skinner's arcane language and renders it not only clear but convincing" -- Kirkus Reports
"Using a behavioral analysis of language as described by B.F. Skinner, this approach teaches language across functions, which Mary explains with easy-to-understand examples and language. Written from the perspective of both a parent and a professional this book will prove valuable to a variety of readers." -- Catherine B. Doran, MA, CCC/SLP, Speech and Language Pathologist
"I highly recommend Mary's book. It is excellent! Although it's very short and easy to read, it seems to cover everything! I'm recommending it to every parent and professional I come in contact with." -- Sharon Zamrin, M.S.Ed., BCBA
"The Verbal Behavior Approach provides useful information and resources for immediate application, accomplishing the book's main objective, providing for rapid implementation of an AVB program." -- The Behavior Analyst Today
"Written with style, warmth and real know-how, Mary Barbera has managed to combine valuable therapeutic advice with her own eloquent story." -- Eustacia Cutler, author of A Thorn in My Pocket: Temple Grandin's Mother Tells the Family Story

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