Variable Ratio

Used in teaching and proper use of reinforcers, the variable ratio is a way of describing a group of different response-based schedules of reinforcement. For example, the learner’s correct 2nd, then 3rd, then 6th, then 1st responses will be reinforced.  These different response rates (2nd, 3rd, 6th, and 1st) will be labeled as VR-3—the average of the sum of the four rates of responses. Behaviors on a VR schedule tend to show consistent and steady response rates in which the learner does not “pause” after a reinforcer is presented as the next response may produce it. Like VI, the higher the [ratio] requirement, the more the learner will do the behavior.


VI– Used in teaching and proper use of reinforcers, variable interval is a way of describing a group of different time-based schedules of reinforcement. For example, the child’s first correct response will be reinforced after 5 minutes, then after 3 minutes, then after 4 minutes. These different intervals (5 minutes, 3 minutes, and 4 minutes) will be labeled as VI-3—the average of the sum of the three intervals. Behaviors on a VI schedule tend to produce uniform or stable response rates in which larger averages produces somewhat less behaviors.

Verbal vs Non-Verbal

Verbal vs Non-Verbal- These are very loose terms used by individuals to describe a person that can vocally communicate (“verbal”) and a person that cannot (“non-verbal”).  


VB-MAPP Assessment

VB-MAPP Assessment- Stands for Verbal Behavior Milestones Assessment and Placement Program. An assessment and curriculum tool created by Dr. Sundberg. This tool focuses on verbal assessment to get a complete snapshot of verbal abilities, strengths, and deficits. Domains include manding, intraverbals, echoics, etc.

Triennial IEP

Triennial IEP – Also called triennial assessment or triennial review.   Students who receive special education services must be re-evaluated comprehensively to determine their eligibility for continued special education services three years after the initial eligibility.


Transitions – May refer to changes from one activity or setting to another such as from an early childhood program to school or from a preferred play activity to a work activity. Transitions are typically very difficult for individuals with ASD, particularly unplanned or surprise transitions.

Token Economy

Token Economy – This is a system of reinforcement in which a learner “earns” conditioned reinforcers such as coins, tickets, or plastic chips to name a few examples immediately after performing a desired behavior. These tokens can be then used to “buy” something that the learner truly wants.


Time-out – Also called time-out from reinforcers. As the label suggests, this is a consequence in which a person loses some or all opportunities to gain access to reinforcers.  A good way to implement this procedure is removing the person from an area where reinforcement is available (e.g., playground or the living room where the game console is located at) or removing a reinforcer from the person (e.g., taking away the beloved iPad or phone or toy).  Do not implement time-out for escape-based/avoidance-based behaviors as doing so will make things worse.

Task reduction

Task reduction – Decreasing the demands put upon the learner in an effort to avoid or decrease frustration levels which then facilitates overall task completion.

Task Analysis

This is the process of breaking up a skill or a behavior into smaller, teachable steps.  For example, brushing teeth as a behavior may be broken down into, say, 7 clear steps that can be taught: get toothbrush, squeeze toothpaste on the brush, brush left side teeth, brush center teeth, brush right teeth, rinse mouth, rinse toothbrush.