What Are Mands and Why Do We Need to Teach Them?

Keep Calm and Teach Mands

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 no real idea what they really wanted? TEACH MANDS! 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? TEACH MANDS! 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 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. 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 using simple words can get them what they desire. It is up to us to teach them those words.

At the Applied Behavior Center for Autism, we often start a child’s program with 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 in order to develop language skills. 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 establish certain targets into your child’s treatment plan so that they learn those skills.

Jen DeRocher, M.A., BCBA
Program Coordinator, Greenwood

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 www.appliedbehaviorcenter.org/get-started/.


Jen DeRochermands, education, clinical