A Parent’s Quick Guide to the VB-MAPP

8/9/2021 Asya Miles

If you’ve recently had a child diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder, then you may have already started picking up on the fact that there’s an infinite number of acronyms associated with autism. One such acronym is the VB-MAPP, or the Verbal Behavior Milestones Assessment and Placement Program. Try saying that five times fast!

Generally speaking, the VB-MAPP is an assessment tool that helps Board Certified Behavior Analysts (BCBAs) determine learning/linguistic skill level and appropriate future goals for children ages 2-7. There are three primary subcategories of the VB-MAPP that you may hear your child’s BCBA mention a bit more frequently:

1. Milestones Assessment

This assessment is what we most often think of when we discuss the VB-MAPP. It is designed to inform BCBAs of your child’s current performance level as well as future goals that may be attainable for your child. This encompasses skills like:

  • Provides first name when asked, "What is your name?"

  • “Spontaneously responds to the requests of peers.”

  • Independently manipulates and explores objects for 30 seconds during a 30 minute observation.

  • Initiates a physical interaction with a peer 1 time.

  • Sits at a group snack or lunch table without negative behavior for 1 minute.”

2. Barriers Assessment

In addition to the milestones assessment, another aspect of VB-MAPP that may be important to know is the barriers assessment. This assessment is instrumental in helping BCBAs determine the roadblocks that may prevent your child from reaching their language and learning goals. By knowing what may stand in the way of your child’s progress, BCBAs can brainstorm strategies to overcome those barriers before they’ve become pervasive.

3. Transition Assessment

Now that you know a little bit about the milestones and barriers assessments, it may be a tad bit easier to make an assumption about the purpose of the transition assessment. This assessment provides insight into your child’s preparedness for integration into a less restrictive environment. For example, if your child was originally in a special education classroom but they’ve made significant progress in reaching their goals, it may be determined that the child can now be placed in a general education classroom with the use of necessary supports.

By incorporating the VB-MAPP into your child’s treatment plan, BCBAs are able to pinpoint specific areas to focus on during ABA therapy to ensure that they’re meeting your child where they currently are and working towards getting them to their goals.

You may be thinking “My child has already done these assessments, so why do they need to keep doing them every couple of months?”: just as your child is constantly growing and developing, so too are their language and learning skills! We should be altering your child’s plan as their skillset grows, so follow-up assessments are vital to their growth. We understand that being the parent of a child with autism can be challenging at times, but remember that we’re here to help during this substantial period of growth. We’ve got your back!