Keep Calm and Teach Mands

What are mands and why do we need to teach them?

As a parent, has your little bundle of joy ever screamed at the top of their lungs? Have you ever rushed around trying to give them different things, but had real no idea what they really wanted? Have you ever given your kid your phone because the second that you took it away to look up the next ingredient for dinner, your kid started screaming in the middle of the store? Have you ever just given your kid things to keep them happy instead of making them ask for them first? TEACH MANDS!

Mands are just requests. It really is that simple. You request to leave uncomfortable situations, you request to have more time with something you are enjoying, you request your favorite type of coffee when you go to the coffee shop, you can request specific information, and so on. You do these things without any thought, but some of our kids have not made the connection that if they ask for things appropriately, then they can get access to them. Many kids throw tantrums instead of asking for more time to enjoy those activities, and many parents give back those items instead of using that moment to teach an appropriate response. Think about it…how frustrating would it be if you know what you want but can’t tell anyone? So, what do we do about it? TEACH MANDS! This is an example of how ABA can help with teaching important skills.

It takes a lot of time and consistency, but teaching kids how to request things opens up a whole new world for them. Many behavioral episodes decrease when there is an appropriate mand that is taught in place of those behaviors. Kids on the autism spectrum often have not made the connection that simple words can get them what they desire. It is up to us to teach them those words. It’s important to note that mand training should be done across all environments (home, school, community, etc.). Mand training should also be done with all caregivers (mom, dad, grandparents, teachers, etc) and expectations should be consistent for the child.

At the Applied Behavior Center for Autism, many times the first part of any child’s program is teaching those basic communication requests. When you come in for your initial interview, we can go over that programming and what it would look like. We can work with you to discuss certain things that your child needs help with to develop language. We can teach communication with American Sign Language, vocalizations, or even augmentative communication devices (i.e. using a tablet). It is our job as program coordinators to help program certain targets into your child’s treatment plan so that they learn those skills.

The benefits of Mand Training for young children and their families can be life-changing. Once a child learns “I talk, I get,” it is likely their ability to communicate will increase. Communication will start to serve a function for the child.

Jen DeRocher, M.A., BCBA

Program Director

If your child isn’t currently a patient at the Applied Behavior Center for Autism and you’re interested in finding out more information, contact us today at 317-849-5437 or go to

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