January 12, 2017

We are in the beginning stages of implementing a new program in the TLC classroom here at the high school. The program is called “Intensive Verbal Behavior Training” and it is designed to improve speech skills, interpersonal skills, and behavior. The foundation of the program is to teach skills via activities that the student finds enjoyable and fun. The idea is that if you make learning fun, students will be more engaged and involved in learning. This does not change for students with special needs. We believe that a child can be a student, no matter their ability, actual or perceived.

This program’s roots can be found in B.F. Skinner’s theories of operant conditioning. The thought was that current and future human actions are dependent on consequences of previous actions. Put very simply, if a child touches a hot stove and gets burned, they will remember that experience and check to see if the stove is hot the next time they are near.  It should be noted, however, that this program does not contain any consequences that are pain related or negative.

The program really is as easy as the ABC’s. A refers to the antecedent, which is the root or cause of a behavior. B is the observed behavior that the child or student outwardly exhibits. C is the consequence of the behavior. When we think consequence, we typically picture something negative. That is not the case with this program. The consequence can be positive as well. This programming can also assist in extinguishing negative behaviors by replacing them with positive, more appropriate ones. This occurs when educators identify items or activities that the student likes or enjoys. These are called “Mands”. Mands are the reward for completing what is asked of the student. The caveat obviously is the teacher gets the desired response because the student wants the Mand. The verbal training resides in the echoic part of the programming. The student who struggles with speech skills is requested by the teacher to repeat words or phrases. The thought is this daily training will spark some independent speech.

Tact has to do with the senses. When you can incorporate learning with touch, smell, hearing, tasting an object or food, it may spark the student to say the name of the object. Intraverbal deals with asking the student a question. When the student responds correctly to the question and completes the other components of the program they will receive one of their mands at the conclusion of the session. The receptive has to do with identifying a specific object by touching or another way of specific identification. Motor imitation has to do with requests by the facilitator to imitate a motor skill such as touching their nose, ears, face, etc… They can also be requested to clap their hands, stomp their feet, wave their hands, etc…

The hope is that over time our students will enjoy their school experience more along with learning some new skills that may benefit them in their life after they leave Lexington High School.