How to use the VB-MAPP as a Curriculum Guide and not as a Curriculum

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Ever felt like you’re trying to crack a code when it comes to understanding your child’s behavior or developmental progress? or it can feel like trying to solve a puzzle with missing pieces. Don’t worry,you’re not alone in this bewildering journey. That’s where VB-MAPP steps in to lend a hand! But what is it exactly?

A List of Popular Autism & ABA Curricula
Written by Emaley McCulloch



VB-MAPP stands for the Verbal Behavior Milestones Assessment and Placement Program. It is a criterion-referenced assessment tool, curriculum guide, and skill tracking system often used by behavior analysts when working with the autism population or other individuals who demonstrate language delays. It's basically a fancy way of saying it helps us understand where your child is at in terms of communication and social skills. Think of it as a road map that guides us through your child’s development journey, pointing out milestones along the way.

VB-MAPP isn’t just another complex term thrown into the mix.It’s like having a trusty GPS when you’re lost in the woods – it shows you the way forward, helping you understand your child better and paving the path for their growth.

VB-MAPP is like the Swiss Army knife of developmental assessments. It’s a handy tool used by pros to figure out where kids are at with their language and social skills, especially those who might need a bit of extra support.

Picture it as your child’s personal growth chart, but way cooler. It breaks down communication into bite-sized pieces, making it easier for pros to see what’s going well and where there’s room for improvement.

For parents, educators, and therapists, VB-MAPP is like having a treasure map to guide them through the adventure of helping your kid thrive. It helps them set goals, track progress, and celebrate those little victories along the way.

VB-MAPP Accuracy:

Ever wondered just how accurate VB-MAPP really is when it comes to understanding your child's progress? Let's explore what makes this assessment tool tick and how it can impact your child's development journey.

At the 2019 Michigan Autism Conference, a study was presented to explore the reliability of the VB-MAPP. It aimed to investigate its effectiveness as an outcome measure for low-intensity behavioral interventions.The findings from this study revealed promising results: milestones displayed good reliability, while barriers showed moderate reliability, albeit with some variation across specific domains.

In comparison to the Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scale, the VB-MAPP proved more adept at detecting gains from low-dosage interventions. These findings offer valuable insights for professionals and researchers utilizing the VB-MAPP in autism intervention programs.Top of Form


In light of these findings, we can also delve further into studying its accuracy by examining factors:

Expertise Matters:

When it comes to VB-MAPP assessments, the expertise of the evaluator is paramount. Professionals with extensive training and knowledge ensure reliable and insightful results that truly reflect your child's abilities.

Active Participation:

Your child's engagement during the assessment is more than just a box to tick – it's a crucial ingredient for accuracy. The more they participate, the clearer the insights we gain into their communication and social skills.

Consistency is Key:

Consistency isn't just a buzzword; it's a cornerstone of accurate assessments. Following standardized procedures ensures that VB-MAPP results are reliable and comparable across different settings and evaluators.

Understanding Limitations:

While VB-MAPP provides valuable insights, it's essential to understand its limitations. No assessment tool is perfect, and being aware of its boundaries helps set realistic expectations for your child's development.

Tailoring Interventions:

VB-MAPP isn't just about assessment; it's about action. By combining VB-MAPP with other assessment methods, professionals can craft tailored interventions that address your child's unique needs, supporting their growth and progress effectively.

Curriculum or Curriculum Guide?

Did you know, the VB-MAPP was created to be used as a curriculum guide, rather than an actual curriculum? This incredibly valuable tool was designed to help create effective goals and targets that address individualized language, social skills, and learning readiness following the assessment of the learner’s skills. That is, as clinicians we use this assessment to identify the skills that are already in repertoire, while simultaneously making informed decisions on the noted areas of deficit—or emerging skills—followed by supplemental programs to teach each learner with specific goals in mind. Creating program targets and protocols that list milestones and tasks verbatim was not the intention of the creators of the VB-MAPP. A learner’s scope and sequence of learning milestones and skills need to be individualized and are not often linear in nature.

Motivity’s VB-MAPP Skill Library

Fun fact: The built in VB-Mapp skill library is free for all Motivity users!

What if we told you that Motivity has already generated skill acquisition programs that address the VB-MAPP Milestones? The programs address the milestones and tasks at multiple angles and across levels and verbal operants. This month we released our VB-MAPP Skill Library (“VBM-SL”) that houses over 90 skill acquisition programs, and counting, that can easily be modified to fit your learners’ needs and can be added to your learner’s profile immediately following their assessment. Each program has a long-term goal to help guide staff members on the direction of their curriculum, a list of references that correspond with the VB-MAPP Milestones and Tasks, a section specified to include pertinent teaching instructions, materials, responses to be accepted from the learner, and an area to note specific error correction procedures. 

VBM-SL Programs

The VBM-SL programs vary in the methods by which they are taught. That is, some programs are set up to be taught using naturalistic exemplar training (NET), while others are taught via discrete trial training (DTT). A number of programs include a rate measure to capture mands and tacts emitted throughout a session, and others use a changing criterion design to increase speaker and listener skills. Lastly, several programs have been created to teach speaker and listener skills by way of Multiple Exemplar Instruction (MEI), which consist of the rotation of different verbal operants with different functions (e.g., match, point to, tact, and intraverbal) across a series of consecutive trials. 

Motivity Functionality

Navigation Features

Navigating our library is simple. We used our “label” feature and linked every program to corresponding Milestones and Levels of the VB-MAPP. For example, our Colors program can be found using our filter feature using one or more of the following labels: Level 2, Level 3, Listener Responding, Mand, Tact, VPMTS. We also include a crosswalk of all milestones and tasks directly linked to the name and url of the program in Motivity. 

View the Crosswalk Here

More to Come

While the bulk of the VBM-SL library places heavy emphasis on language and acquisition skills, our team at Motivity continues to add more programs that address the Barriers and Transition Assessments found in the VB-MAPP. As we continue to grow this library for our users, our hope is that you, your team, and your learners benefit from our bank of knowledge.


LaFrance, D. L. and Tarbox, J. (2019). The importance of multiple exemplar instruction in the establishment of novel verbal behavior. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis. 9999. 1-15.
Sundberg, M. L. (2008). Verbal Behavior Milestones Assessment and Placement Program. Concord, CA: AVB Press.


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Motivator Spotlight Feature of the Month
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Chelsee Bznuni, M.A., BCBA
Customer Success Consultant