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Mental Health Awareness Month

Tact ABA: Verbal and Non-Verbal ABA Tacting Strategies

Reading Time: 5 Minutes
tact aba, tacting aba

Tacting is the ability to label or identify objects, actions, events, and concepts in the environment. The ability to tact allows people to communicate their needs, wants, and observations effectively. Successful tacting involves not just identifying, but also understanding the functions and features of what’s being identified. By practicing tacting and ABA therapy, students can develop receptive language skills, improve communication, and enhance social interactions.

Different Types of Tacting & Tacting Examples

There are several types of tacting that can be targeted during ABA therapy sessions. These include:

1. Object Tacting: Object tacting involves labeling or identifying objects in the environment.

“This is a chair.”

“That’s a ball.”

“Look, it’s a car.”

2. Attribute Tacting: Attribute tacting involves labeling or describing the characteristics or features of objects, such as size, shape, color, or texture.

“The apple is red.”

“The cat is fluffy.”

“This table is round.”

3. Action Tacting: Action tacting involves labeling or describing actions or movements.

“The bird is flying.”

“He’s running.”

“I’m jumping.”

4. Abstraction Tacting: Abstraction tacting involves labeling or identifying abstract concepts or ideas.

“Happiness is when you feel joyful.”

“Freedom means being able to make choices.”

“Love is when you care about someone deeply.”

5. Condition Tacting: Condition tacting involves labeling or identifying the state or condition of objects or individuals.

“The water is cold.”

“He looks tired.”

“The banana is ripe.”

Steps for Successful Tacting Implementation

1. Assessment

Before implementing tacting strategies, it’s important to conduct a comprehensive assessment of your student’s language skills, including receptive and expressive vocabulary. This will help identify their current level of tacting abilities and target areas for improvement.

2. Select Relevant Targets

    After the assessment, determine which targets are most appropriate for your student’s goals and needs. Beginning with items or concepts that are already familiar to them will encourage success and motivation. You can then gradually introduce new elements to expand their vocabulary.

    3. Use Effective Prompting Strategies

    Prompting is an important aspect of teaching tacting skills. Start with high levels of support, such as physical or gestural prompts, and fade these as your student becomes more proficient. Use prompts sparingly and systematically fade them to promote independent tacting skills.

    4. Incorporate Multiple Examples

    Expose your student to multiple examples of the same concept to promote the generalization of tacting skills. For example, if teaching tacting of colors, present a range of different objects in different colors to help them recognize and label the different objects correctly.

    5. Apply Behavioral Momentum

    Behavioral momentum is a technique that starts with relatively easy, high-probability tasks before transitioning to more challenging ones. This technique helps maintain motivation and increases the likelihood of successful tacting responses. Begin the session with tasks the student has previously mastered and gradually introduce new targets.

    6. Provide Reinforcement

    Positive reinforcement plays a crucial role in ABA therapy, including the teaching of tacting skills. Use a variety of reinforcers, such as praise, tokens, or preferred items, to reinforce correct tacting responses. Reinforcement should be immediate, consistent, and tailored to the student’s preferences to maximize its effectiveness.

    7. Build Vocabulary Hierarchy

    When teaching tacting skills, it is helpful to establish a hierarchy of vocabulary that systematically progresses from basic to more complex concepts. Start with teaching concrete and easily identifiable objects (e.g., colors, shapes) and gradually introduce more abstract and subjective concepts (e.g., emotions, actions).

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    Non-Verbal Tacting Strategies

    In addition to verbal tacting, it’s important to familiarize yourself with nonverbal tactical skills for students who may have limited or no verbal abilities. Here are few effective strategies for nonverbal tacting:

    1. Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS)

    PECS is a widely used non-verbal communication system that teaches students to exchange pictures to express their wants and needs. You can incorporate PECS into tacting sessions by providing visual prompts and teaching your student to select and exchange appropriate pictures to label objects or concepts.

    2. Sign Language

    American Sign Language (ASL) or modified sign language can be taught to students with limited verbal communication abilities. Incorporate specific signs for commonly used words or objects. Then, practice these signs consistently to ensure your student can label and understand the corresponding concepts non-verbally.

    3. AAC Devices

    Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) devices are assistive technology tools that can support non-verbal students in tacting. These devices allow students to select and verbally label objects or concepts through preloaded symbols or by typing text. Work with your students to identify and practice using the AAC device effectively.

    Benefits of Tacting in ABA

    Implementing tacting strategies in ABA therapy offers numerous benefits:

    • Enhanced communication skills: Tacting allows students to effectively express their needs, wants, observations, and experiences.
    • Improved receptive language skills: Tacting strengthens the understanding of labels and concepts, enhancing overall language development.
    • Expansion of vocabulary and knowledge: Tacting teaches students to label objects, describe attributes, identify actions, understand abstract concepts, and recognize object conditions.
    • Generalization and transfer of skills: Tacting promotes the application of learned skills in various contexts beyond therapy sessions.
    • Increased independence and self-advocacy: Proficient tacting skills empower students to express preferences, make choices, and advocate for their needs independently.
    • Facilitates learning and academics: Tacting skills provide a foundation for reading comprehension, vocabulary acquisition, and academic success.
    • Social interaction and connection: Tacting skills enhance meaningful conversations, sharing experiences, and building relationships with others.

    Difference Between a Tact and Mand

    While both tacts and mands involved expressive language and communication, they are different. Tacts involve labeling or describing things in the environment without an immediate purpose or consequence. On the other hand, mands involve making requests to obtain desired objects, actions, or outcomes. Teaching tacts and mands allows students to effectively communicate their observations, desires, and needs in various contexts.

    Can Catalyst Help with ABA Tacting?

    Catalyst’s data collection software is designed to help record, analyze, and maintain the progress of all ABA interventions and goals. Catalyst tracks the frequency and accuracy of tacts, identifies areas of difficulty, and automates graphs and progress reports so tacting strategies can be adjusted as needed. By using a digital cloud-based system, you can securely share data with parents and other professionals for collaboration on tacting goals. Plus, collect data from any device increasing accuracy, efficiency, and ease. Schedule a demo to learn more about the ins and outs of Catalyst.



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