Developing mand and tact repertoires in persons with severe developmental disabilities using graphic symbols

Jeff Sigafoos, Scott Doss, Joe E Reichle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations


An important educational objective for many persons with developmental disabilities is the acquisition of verbal operants such as the mand (e.g., requesting) and tact (e.g., labeling). Mands and tacts have been described as separate response classes and several studies support this description. Consequently, an important applied issue involves implementing procedures to develop both tact and mand repertoires. The present study investigated procedures for developing mands and tacts in three learners with severe disabilities. Learners were first taught to tact, then mand food/beverage items and the utensils required to access those items by pointing to line drawings depicting the items. The results suggest that responses acquired as tacts do not readily occur as mands. "Spontaneous" manding was developed through a transfer of stimulus control procedure which brought mands under the control of conditioned establishing operations. Substantial transfer to untrained objects and transfer across response classes were frequently noted after both tact and mand interventions had occured for some items. Variables facilitating these generalized effects are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)183-200
Number of pages18
JournalResearch in Developmental Disabilities
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1989

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Preparation of this work was supported in part by Contract No. 300-82-0363 awarded to the University of Minnesota from the Division of Innovations and Development, Special Education Programs, U.S. Department of Education. The opinions expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the position or policy of the U.S. Department of Education, and no official endorsement should be inferred.


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