What is a Mand?

Communication is one of the most important skills a person can have. We communicate with other people in a variety of ways, some of which we may not even be aware of. One of the first things we work on with our clients is teaching them how to mand.

A mand is a request for an item, information, or attention followed by access to the item, information, or attention they were searching for. By immediately providing the child with what they were asking for, the mand is being reinforced and will be more likely to occur again in the future.

A mand can come in the form of a statement or a question.

For example, a child could just say the word ‘play-doh’, they could say, “I want play-doh”, or they could say “Can I have the play-doh?” to gain access to the play-doh. The way we require our clients to mand for things is determined by their skill level and form of communication. Not only do mands give people access to tangible items, but they also give access to attention and information. Once the child has a large repertoire of mands for tangible items, we may begin working on how to appropriately gain someone’s attention by tapping them on their shoulder or saying, “Excuse me”.

Without having a mand repertoire, the learner is unable to communicate their basic wants and needs. If you wonder how often you mand throughout the day, challenge yourself not to ask anyone for anything. This includes using phrases such as, “Can you pass the salt?”, “Hand me that paper towel”, or even something as simple as, “How was your day?” It’s not as easy as you might think!