Cookies, now! Can I have a drink please? Play? I want to see that toy. These are all examples of mands! In the presence of a motivation to gain access to a desired item or action, the speaker identifies this in the form of a word, sign, picture, AAC output, etc.
Manding: The first form of language that is targeted with the ineffective communicator, as it indicates the learner’s wants and needs. This is the only verbal operant (behavior that is mediated through the response of the listener) that states exactly what is wanted, and the reinforcement is in the delivery of the item. In the presence of the learner’s motivation to attain the item (and inability to retrieve item independently) and a listener present, the learner with ‘mand’ or request for the item. This request will be demonstrated using the learner’s primary mode of communication (i.e. sign language, words/phrases/sentences, AAC device, PECS, etc.).
A learner that stands in the middle of the kitchen by him/herself stating ‘cookie, cookie, cookie’ is not considered a mand, as there is not a listener present to deliver the cookie. However as soon as the learner’s sister enters the kitchen and the learner states ‘cookie’, the cookie will be delivered from the sister, thus reinforcing his mand.
Although this is less than ideal, it also demonstrates a mand. The learner that requests ‘milk’ in the presence of mom, however mom states ‘not now’ is also a mand but is not reinforcing the learner’s mand/request. Refrain from engaging in these interactions when language is developing, as this may punish the learner from manding again in the future, because his requests are not fulfilled.
A mand may request an item or action; examples include ‘game’, ‘play’, ‘swing’, ‘upside down’, ‘walk’, ‘cookie’, etc.
The purpose of mands is to communicate your precise wants and needs with the listener who must mediate to provide the access. This is one of the initial steps of setting up social interactions and the basis for more complex language.