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Mand Training for kids with Autism - Part 2

Updated: Oct 15, 2020

We need to know the hierarchical progression of Mand Training as well as understand the speech repertoire of the child. This progression would be different for each child depending on the child's language skills.

Child makes:

Vocal approximations ----------------> We teach the whole word

Single word utterances --------------> Multiple word utterances should be echoed and encouraged for the child to repeat and learn

We follow the following progression:

One-word mands: "ball"---> use pivotal words to increase the length of request e.g "Play ball" ---> teach longer requests, e.g "I want to play ball"

Hierarchical Sequence of Teaching Mand Training:

From Easy to Difficult -

  1. Object (food or toys)

  2. Activity (e.g to play on slide)

  3. Action (e.g child asking mom to help him open the bottle/get a book from the shelf)

  4. Attention (e.g tapping on shoulders to ask for something, knocking on the door, saying "excuse me")

  5. Missing items (something that is needed to complete an activity e.g given paper but no pencil or scissors, or missing puzzle pieces to fix a puzzle)

  6. Information (e.g "where is the cup")


The child may enjoy a particular toy today but some environmental change can occur that can no longer make the item desirable thereafter. Thus, as parents/educators, we need to alter our teaching based on what the child finds motivating by selecting appropriate targets that can be contrived in multiple ways so the child learns to generalise across situations.

Written by: Veena Santhanam

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