Verbal Behavior Approach: How to Teach Children with Autism and       Related Disorders [Mary Lynch Barbera]

Saturday, October 31, 2009

The Pennsylvania Verbal Behavior Project

As many of you know I’ve been the Lead Behavior Analyst for the PA Verbal Behavior Project since 2003. I always receive a lot of questions about the Project so I wanted to give some basic information via this blog.

The PA VB Project started in 2002-3 school year with two pilot classrooms in the Wilkes-Barre PA area.  The main goal of the Project is to establish public school classrooms that provide teaching procedures using Applied Behavior Analysis and the Analysis of Verbal Behavior to improve communication, social and other relevant skills for students with autism.

The Project has grown over the years and we now serve over 100 public school autism classrooms throughout the State of PA. The Project is supported solely by the PA Department of Education and provides three main services. Each Project classroom receives: 1) training; 2) some materials such as Language Builder Cards, VB-MAPP protocols, and Direct Instruction Materials; and 3) on site guided practice by Board Certified Behavior Analysts (BCBA’s) and those studying to become BCBA’s. The largest parts of our budget has and will always be on site coaching since studies show that most people retain little information and are not able to apply much after lecture alone.

The VB Project does have some outcome data based on a site review checklist and student assessment scores and we have presented this data at the last several International ABA conferences. This year we will have even more outcome data since we are now using the VB-MAPP for all of our 600+ students. Hopefully this data will be published in the future.

Check out this youtube video about the PA Verbal Behavior Project:

Here is a free downloadable parent handbook too:

Contact for more information about the PA VB Project.


  1. Mary,
    Just read all your blogs and like your book, they are excellent. Will forward the link to my students, colleagues, and families.
    Dick Malott, BCBA-D

  2. Mary,
    This is great stuff! The information and resources that you provide allows me to better prepare future Special Education teachers.
    Christopher Bloh, Ph.D., BCBA-D

  3. Fantastic work and fantastic resources. One major caveat -- Applied Behavior Analysis and the Verbal Behavior approach were not designed only for individuals with autism. Rather, these technologies have been developed and applied as interventions for individuals with developmental disabilities, language delays and problem behavior. Be careful not to inadvertently create an exclusive autism club -- it is limiting to those with and without the label. Verbal Behavior changed the life of our daughter forever, and she does not have a diagnosis of autism. Do not take that opportunity away from other children who may be perfect candidates for a Verbal Behavior program, but who do not have a diagnosis of autism.