Blog Category : Speech and Language

Do Not Let “NRs” Doubt Your Skills

father holding his sonWhat is “NR”?

“NR” is short for ‘no response’. In terms of ABA, when a therapist is collecting data after a trial and the client does not responds at all, their score would be considered a ‘no response’ or “NR.”

Some learners can be prompted to do physical activities like playing games, completing schoolwork, and singing songs, but once they are requested to respond to a question or demand, they go blank. Typically, eye contact dissolves, and a blank stare occurs. Remember, it is impossible to force out a verbal response from someone else.

It is not uncommon to become nervous or doubt your skills as a professional when ‘no response’ occurs. However, it is important to keep in mind that you should:

  • Continue trying to connect with the client
  • Avoid ‘waiting out’ the client until they respond
  • Do not try raising your voice, this will not help with receiving a response
  • Prevent repeating your clients name; if they are not giving a verbal response to demands then they definitely will not respond to their name being called
  • Do not continue teaching and giving new information, this is not going to help your client learn if they are unable to respond to the initial request

Focus on Yourself

The best piece of advice to remember is to avoid blaming the client. Focus on how you can change your actions in order to motivate the client. Are you able to make your materials more engaging? Can you reinforce differently? Can the client sense your frustration? Are you teaching too quickly or too slowly? How can you make yourself more fun?

Continue trying new tactics to see what motivates the client to give you a verbal response. Even if something fails, at least you know it does not work and you’ve made progress in determining how to receive a response from the client. For any additional information, please reach out to The SEED Center. Our team of highly trained professionals is eager to help!

 Photo by ALP STUDIO on Unsplash

ABA Communication Techniques Elaborated

children reading together outside

As previously discussed, echoics, intraverbals, mands, and tacts are all common ABA techniques to teach communication! Remember, the ultimate goal is not only to have your child be able to communicate with you, but with peers, teachers, and other people your child may interact with.


Echoics are the fundamentals of language and allow your child to learn by repeating what they hear. These demonstrate basic communication and as your child learns, you will be able to increase the conversation length and have more in-depth communication.


As mentioned before, these demonstrate your child’s ability to respond to questions involving something that is not physically there. This will allow your child to answer questions, such as, their parents names, phone number, etc.


By learning mands, a child will be able to request a need or a want. This will teach them how to communicate that they are hunger, thirsty, hurt, tired, etc. Also, mands teach a child how to appropriately ask for things or to communicate desires.


Tacts, or labels, teach your child how to identify objects in their environment. This allows your child to identify things they want. Also, tacts give you the ability to understand their requests.


These techniques focus on teaching communication in a way that works best for the learner. The goal is to have your child be able to communicate their wants, needs, and ideas and how that goal is achieved should be individualized in a way that best suits the learner.


For more information, please contact The SEED Center.


Photo by Ben White on Unsplash


Increasing Communication through Verbal Operants

Children playing outside togetherPhoto by Ashton Bingham on Unsplash

            The common goal of ABA therapy is to increase communication. Communication needs to be functional so a child can express their needs, wants, and ideas. Also, ABA programs aim to increase functional communication based on the learner. Thus, how communication is taught can be restructured and the definition of success can vary. In other words, the teaching of communication may veer away from the traditional method of learning nouns, sentence structure, adjectives, etc. but in turn focus on verbal operants. Verbal operants include, echoics, intraverbals, mands, and tacts.

What are echoics, intraverbals, mands, and tacts?

  •   Echoic- Having the learner repeat what they hear (echoing)
  •   Intraverbal- Requiring the learner to respond to conversation, including things or ideas that are not physically present
  •   Mand– Teaching the learner to request what they want or need
  •   Tact- Teaching the learner label and define objects

Our highly trained professionals at The SEED Center possess the skills necessary to help your child learn these communication techniques. Remember, the overall goal is for your child to be able to communicate with everyone they talk to.

Language Development

How can I tell if my child is behind on language development? This is a question a lot of parents ask themselves when their child is growing up. Each child is different, so there is no definite ‘normal’ language development in young children. If you are worried about your child’s language development, keep in mind these age-related milestones:

Age One Milestones:

  • Respond to others verbally or with facial expressions
  • Attentive to others talking
  • Babbling
  • Can use simple words, “mom,” “dad,” “uh-oh”
  • Attempts to mimic others speech
  • Follow simple commands
  • Pointing
  • Recognizing faces, objects, etc.
  • Respond to verbal questions
  • Repeat words they have heard

 Age Three-Four Milestones:

  • Can understand when things are similar or different
  • Speaks clearly for strangers to understand
  • Can tell stories
  • Can string together a sentence of five to six words


Children learn at their own pace, but if you are worried that your child is falling behind on any of these milestones, you may want to seek assistance from one of our professionals to help your child develop and improve their language skills.


Tips on Communicating with a Child with ASD

We thought these communication tips could be beneficial for parents, teachers, and peers interacting with a child or young adult with ASD.

  • Be Clear and Concise

Use literal language and avoid figurative language because individuals with ASD usually have a difficult time acknowledge idioms, metaphors, etc. Make sure to explain yourself without excessive word use. Limiting the amount of words is helpful during early learning to help get ideas across.

  • Encourage Tasks with Positivity

We do not want our to children associate our voice only with commands and demands. Encouraging your child with positive words and suggestions will allow your child to associate a task with positivity.

  • Give Suggestions, Not Demands

Encourage your child to preform a certain task by making suggestions. “Let’s try putting away your toys,” as opposed to, “Put away your toys!”

  • Use Name with Praise

Use of a child’s name in association with praise will likely encourage more positive behavior. Avoid only using your child’s name when placing demands.

  • Refrain from Verbal Communication during Challenging Behavior

When undesirable behavior is taking place, refrain from engaging by limiting your words. Using verbal communication while your child is partaking in a negative behavior will only encourage them because you are giving them the attention they are seeking. Also, avoid seeking a verbal response from a child when they are expressing a challenging behavior.