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Assessment For Students Who Are Limited Verbally

By Rosemarie Griffin

Assessment and Free Webinar Training

Knowing what assessment to use for students with more complex communication needs can be overwhelming! I wanted to share with you a tool that is very helpful in my practice. The VB-MAPP. The Verbal Behavior Milestones Assessment and Placement Program (VB-MAPP) is a wonderful assessment that is such a valuable tool when working with children who are limited verbally or non verbal. I use it on a regular basis to get a clear picture of how my students are using their language to communicate: I give the assessment when I start working with a new early learner, and then update the assessment once a year to gauge the student’s language growth.

The VB-MAPP, created by Dr. Mark Sundberg, (2008) is based on B.F. Skinner’s 1957 analysis of verbal behavior, established developmental milestones, and research from the field of behavior analysis. It is a criterion referenced assessment tool, curriculum guide, and skill tracking system that is designed for children with autism or other developmental disabilities. There are multiple components of the VB-MAPP which collectively provide a baseline level of performance, a direction for intervention, a system for tracking skill acquisition, and a framework for curriculum planning. It contains 170 measureable learning and language milestones that are sequenced and balanced across 3 developmental levels:

  • Level 1: 0-18 months
  • Level 2: 18-30 months
  • Level 3: 30-48 months

Areas of assessment include Manding, Tacting, Listener Responding, Visual Perceptual Skills and Matching to Sample, Independent Play, Social Behavior and Social Play, Motor Imitation, Echoic Skills, Spontaneous Vocal Behavior, Listener Responding By Function, Feature and Class, Intraverbal, Classroom Routines and Group Skills, Linguistic Structure, Reading, Writing, Linguistic Structure, and Math. In addition to the previously-mentioned skills assessments, an Early Echoic Skills Assessment (created by Dr. Barbara Esch), Barriers Assessment, and Transition Assessment are all included. Interested learners can find the assessment, as well as additional information, at www.avbpress.com.

I created a webinar all about the VB-MAPP. Put your email in the form below and it will be sent your way!

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Here's a free resource–

IEP Goal Bank

Writing IEPs for autistic learners can feel daunting.


From this free download, you'll get real-life examples of specific, measurable goals for expressive language, receptive language, play skills, and imitation.

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