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.


40th Annual Convention; Chicago, IL; 2014

Event Details

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Symposium #342
CE Offered: BACB
Implications of Teaching Multiple Communication Responses on the Generalization and Maintenance of FCT Treatment Effectiveness
Monday, May 26, 2014
10:00 AM–10:50 AM
W183c (McCormick Place Convention Center)
Area: AUT/DDA; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Henry S. Roane (State University of New York Upstate Medical University  )
CE Instructor: Henry S. Roane, Ph.D.

Functional communication training (FCT) has proven to be one of the most effective differential reinforcement-based procedures for treating challenging behavior. While the basic procedures of FCT are well understood, questions remain about programming for generalization of FCT-based treatments. The current symposium examines factors that might enhance the generalization and maintenance of FCT interventions. The study by Isenhower et al. describes a process by which two individuals were taught multiple FCT responses to access preferred tangibles in an attempt to broaden their communication repertoires while maintaining low levels of problem behavior. In a related investigation, Gainey et al. also examined programming for communication variability following treatment with FCT; however, these researchers used Lag 1 schedules of reinforcement to promote response variability. The final study in this symposium also addresses the generalization and maintenance of multiple FCT responses. Specifically, Ringdahl et al. employed a concurrent-schedule arrangement to identify a preference between two communication responses. Next, the authors exposed these responses to different disruptor events (i.e., extinction, noncontingent reinforcement) to examine response maintenance. Each of these papers will include a discussion of the clinical implications of promoting response maintenance within the context of FCT-based treatments.

Keyword(s): challenging behavior, Differential Reinforcement, Functional communication, generalization/maintenance

Broadening the Functional Communication Repertoires of Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder

ROBERT W. ISENHOWER (Douglass Developmental Disabilities Center, Rutgers University), Robert LaRue (Douglass Developmental Disabilities Center, Rutgers University), Rachel Davis (Douglass Developmental Disabilities Center, Rutgers University), Kyung Mo Nam (Douglass Developmental Disabilities Center, Rutgers University), Jaime Decker Mulcahy (Douglass Developmental Disabilities Center, Rutgers University), Meghan Reilly (Douglass Developmental Disabilities Center, Rutgers University), Chariana Guzik (Douglass Developmental Disabilities Center, Rutgers University), Lauren Alison Pepa (Douglass Developmental Disabilities Center, Rutgers University)

Functional Communication Training (FCT) is a differential reinforcement procedure that involves providing reinforcement for a communicative response to replace maladaptive behavior. FCT procedures generally include providing reinforcement for the communication response while maladaptive behavior contacts extinction (or, in some cases, punishment). Oftentimes, the last phases of FCT training involve generalization across therapists and settings and thinning the schedule of reinforcement to allow the response to contact reinforcement on a schedule that more closely matches the contingencies of the natural social environment. However, another important terminal goal for FCT is broadening the communication repertoire itself. Therefore, we examined a communication repertoire broadening procedure in two adolescent males with autism spectrum disorder. Functional analyses revealed that both individuals emitted problem behavior maintained by restricted access to tangible items. To address challenging behavior, FCT with extinction was implemented. Both individuals successfully acquired a Please response in order to gain access to preferred tangible items while low rates of problem behavior were achieved. Subsequently, Participant 1s FCT response was split into Food and Toys and Participant 2s FCT response was split into Food, Toys, and Music. Both individuals acquired the new, broadened communication repertoire while low rates of problem behavior were maintained.


An Evaluation of Lag Schedules of Reinforcement Embedded in Functional Communication Training to Increase Variant Responding

SUMMER GAINEY (The University of Texas at Austin), Terry S. Falcomata (The University of Texas at Austin), Colin S. Muething (The University of Texas at Austin), Katherine Hoffman (The University of Texas)

Functional Communication Training (FCT) is one of the most commonly cited reinforcement-based approaches to the treatment of challenging behavior (Tiger et al., 2008). Previous studies have demonstrated that lag schedules of reinforcement can be effective in increasing variant responding pertaining to clinically relevant behavior (e.g., Lee, McComas, & Jawor, 2002); however previous studies have not evaluated their use during FCT to increase variant mand responding during the treatment of challenging behavior. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effects of lag schedules of reinforcement on communicative variability in three individuals with autism during FCT. Following functional analyses of challenging behaviors, mands were reinforced on Lag 0 or Lag 1 schedules of reinforcement respectively and variant responding and challenging behavior were evaluated. Results showed that a Lag 1 schedule of reinforcement increased variant mand responding considerably relative to the Lag 0 schedule for all participants. Results further showed that the FCT treatment package produced considerable reductions in challenging behavior. These results may have implications for improving the robustness of FCT in terms of the prevention of clinical relapse.


An Evaluation of the Interaction Between Communication Modality Preference, Disruptor, and Response Maintenance

JOEL ERIC RINGDAHL (Southern Illinois University), Wendy K. Berg (The University of Iowa), Kristina Vargo (Sam Houston State University), Jodi Elizabeth Nuernberger (Southern Illinois University Carbondale), Patrick Romani (The University of Iowa), David P. Wacker (The University of Iowa)

Functional communication training (FCT) is the most widely used approach to the treatment of severe behavior problems exhibited by individuals with developmental disabilities (Tiger, Hanley, & Bruzek, 2008). Typically, this approach to treatment includes two components: (a) discontinuing the response-reinforcer relation between problem behavior and its maintaining variable(s), and (b) programming those functional reinforcers to be delivered contingent on appropriate communication. A number of research studies have been conducted demonstrating the robust effectiveness of this intervention across various types of severe problem behavior (e.g., self-injurious behavior, aggression, tantrums) and incorporating a wide variety of alternative, appropriate communicative responses (e.g., vocal requests, manual signs, use of alternative/augmentative communication devices). However, little research has been conducted regarding the maintenance of treatment effects when FCT is disrupted (see, Wacker et al., 2010 for an exception). The current study investigated: (a) the maintenance of FCT effects relative to the continued exhibition of appropriate communication as a function of response preference when FCT was disrupted, and (b) the interaction between disruptor type (i.e., extinction and noncontingent reinforcement) and response preference. Results suggest that high-preference responses have higher response strength than low-preference responses when challenged with extinction. This relationship is not observed across disruptors, as low-preference responses demonstrate higher response strength than high-preference responses when challenged with noncontingent reinforcement. Clinical implications and future directions for research will be discussed.




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