Association for Behavior Analysis International

The Association for Behavior Analysis International® (ABAI) is a nonprofit membership organization with the mission to contribute to the well-being of society by developing, enhancing, and supporting the growth and vitality of the science of behavior analysis through research, education, and practice.


31st Annual Convention; Chicago, IL; 2005

Event Details

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Symposium #389
Recent Developments in the Use of Functional Communication Training with Individuals with Severe Disabilities
Monday, May 30, 2005
3:00 PM–4:20 PM
Stevens 2 (Lower Level)
Area: DDA; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Mark O'Reilly (University of Texas, Austin)
Discussant: Craig H. Kennedy (Vanderbilt University)
Abstract: Functional communication training (FCT) is now a popular and effective method to treat socially mediated challenging behavior. In this sympopsium we present three empirical studies which attempt to extend our understanding of the uses of FCT for the treatment of behavior disorders. In the first paper the authors explore the influence of training a single topography of communication on the the development of untrained vocal communication skills. In the second paper the influence of various task fading procedures are examined during the treatment of escape-maintained problem behavior with FCT. The final paper examines examines the effects of training multiple topographies of cummunication and the influence of such in situations where communication breakdown may occur. Implications of the findings and avenues for future research will be discussed.
Evaluation of Manding Topography during Functional Communication Training
JAY W. HARDING (University of Iowa), David P. Wacker (University of Iowa), Wendy K. Berg (University of Iowa), John F. Lee (University of Iowa), Muska Ibrahimovic (University of Iowa), Lisa C. Winborn-Kemmerer (University of Iowa)
Abstract: We evaluated changes in manding during functional communication training (FCT). The participants were 3 preschool-aged boys who displayed severe problem behavior. All procedures were conducted in the children’s homes with their mothers serving as therapists. Multielement and multiple baseline designs were used to evaluate assessment and treatment results. Inter-rater agreement was assessed across 30% of sessions and averaged 98%. During assessment, functional analyses conducted for each participant showed that problem behavior was maintained by positive reinforcement. During treatment, the parents taught their children to mand for attention or tangibles via vocal requests, manual signing, and a picture card. Treatment results showed that problem behavior decreased for all 3 children and that the children initially performed vocal and non-vocal topographies of manding. Over time, the children’s use of signing and picture cards decreased but the children continued to perform vocal mands to obtain reinforcement. Results will be discussed regarding the development of reinforcement-based communication programs and their influence on vocal communication when augmentative approaches are used during treatment.
Further Analysis of Concurrent Schedules of Reinforcement Within Functional Communication Training Packages
STEPHANIE M. PETERSON (Idaho State University), Renee Koehler Van Norman (The Ohio State University)
Abstract: Functional communication training (FCT) can produce rapid suppression of problem behavior and increases in appropriate communication. However, an often-cited difficulty with FCT as treatment for escape-maintained problem behavior is that it allows the participant to have continuous access to reinforcement (cf. Marcus & Vollmer, 1995). As an alternative, some researchers have opted for differential reinforcement of alternative reinforcement (DRA) interventions that provide reinforcement for increasingly more task completion over time (also known as stimulus or demand fading; e.g., Zarcone, Iwata, Smith, Mazaleski, & Lerman, 1994). However, some researchers have found that extinction bursts are common when increases in task requirements are made. This study evaluated methods of combining FCT and stimulus fading packages to produce effective suppression of problem behavior (with fewer extinction bursts) while simultaneously reinforcing task completion. Specifically, concurrent schedules of reinforcement were applied to communication responses and task completion. Then, the effects of stimulus fading with and without an FCT component were compared. Results of the study will be discussed in relation to matching law and behavioral economics.
Functional Communication Training: Teaching Multiple Functionally Equivalent Responses to Young Children with Autism and Severe Language Delays
ERIK DRASGOW (University of South Carolina), Christian Atlas Martin (University of South Carolina), James W. Halle (University of Illinois)
Abstract: Historically, functional communication training (FCT) has replaced socially undesirable communication forms with a single alternative. In this study, weused a multiple baseline design to examine the effects of an intervention to replace the inappropriate communication of two young children with autism and severe language delays with multiple alternative forms. Our logic forproviding multiple functionally equivalent forms is that communicativebreakdowns often occur because social partners do not immediately respond to communicative attempts for a variety of reasons (e.g., not attending, don't understand). When a breakdown occurs and social partners do not respond,young children may resort to the original socially undesirable communicative behavior or they may stop communicating. Thus, our intervention was aimed atincreasing the children's response class of socially acceptablecommunication forms (a) to prevent them from resorting to undesirable communication and (b) to maintain their persistence during communication breakdowns.



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