Functional Communication Training (FCT) Jesse and Sam
Definition of FCT “Establishing an appropriate communication behavior to compete with problem behaviors” (Cooper, Heron, & Heward, 2007, p. _____).
Another Definition for Ya “This behavioral approach to intervention initially involves assessing the function of the behavior problem using one or more functional assessments and then teaching an alternate behavior in the form of a communicative response to serve as a replacement” (Durand & Merges, 2001, p. 111).
And Another! “Functional communication training (FCT) is a treatment procedure in which an individual is taught to produce an appropriate communicative response (mand) as an alternative to problem behavior as a means of gaining reinforcement” (Harding et al., 2009, p. 21).
Purpose of FCT • For the immediacy of effect the treatment of communicative response has on aggressive and/or self-injurious behavior (Durand & Merges, 2001). • According to Durand and Carr (1991), “behaviors such as severe aggression, self-injurious behavior, and violent tantrums significantly restrict the lives of those who engage in them” (p. 251). • FCT is based on the premise that all behavior communicates something (Casey & Merical, 2006).
Purpose or ‘Logic’ of FCT “The logic behind this approach is that if the student has another, more efficient way of obtaining the consequences that maintain his or her problem behavior, use of the alternative behavior will simultaneously reduce the use of the challenging behavior” (Carr & Durrand, 1991, p. 252).
Purpose of FCT According to Durand and Merges (2001), “FCT relies on the deceptively simple notion that behavior problems can be viewed as a form of communication” (p. 111).
Purpose of FCT A form of operant conditioning, which consists of antecedent, behavior, and consequences. The child has learned that the target behavior can do what Casey and Merical (2006) described as producing “immediate changes” (p. 46) to their surroundings. The underlying purpose of FCT involves replacing the target behavior with an appropriate communicative response that serves the purpose of placing the child in an active role of scheduling his or her own reinforcement (Wacker et al., 1991).
Procedures-Collect Data for a functional behavior analysis (FBA) • Why does Destiny throw tantrums during reading group? • Why does Sade repeatedly hit her head on the desk when she gets frustrated? • Why does Eric scratch his arms until they bleed when play time has ended? • Because these are operant behaviors, behaviors that are learned over time, A-B-C data collection methods would be appropriate. However,
FBA-Continued • Because of the severity of the behaviors exhibited for students considered for FCT, data collection should be as brief as possible for ethical reasons and deliberately increasing the target behavior to observe an effect is also unnecessary and unethical (Durand & Merges, 2001;Gast, 2010). • If conducting an A-B design, the teacher could also use the FBA data for a baseline and only needs to consist of 3 data points (Gast, 2010). • For the single subject studies that we read, the target behavior tends to serve the function of escape and/or attention. • In addition, the target behavior provides the child with an immediate sense of control (Casey & Merical, 2006) .
Procedures-Communication Assessment • Behaviorism recognizes the use of both criterion-referenced and norm referenced assessments to determine communication levels. • For this procedure, criterion-referenced assessment and dynamic assessment would provide a greater understanding of what the child knows, understands, and is able to do (Downing, 1998; Snell, 2002). Behaviorism also rests on the premise of social validity and the degree to which family and community members find the treatment meaningful and relevant (Gast, 2010). • FCT can utilize a variety of communication devices along the communication continuum from intentional communication to symbolic communication and language.
FCT and DRA Cooper and Heron (2007) Consider FCT as a form of differential reinforcement of alternative behaviors. • The student is taught to replace the target behavior with an alternate which can look like; • Asking for help, asking for a reinforcer, a break, obtaining attention, or praise.
FCT and Extinction • In teaching FCT effectively with extinction, Harding et al. (2009) ignored attention-seeking behavior and acted in a neutral manner toward aggressive behavior in an effort to stop the reinforcement of the target behavior.
Cautions for Extinction with FCT • It is not advisable to use extinction for aggressive or easily imitated behaviors (Cooper, Heron, & Heward, 2007). • Aggression can occur as a side effect (Cooper, Heron, & Heward, 2007). • A safety plan will need to be in place to maintain the extinction procedure (Cooper, Heron, & Heward, 2007).
Introducing the Child to FCT Scenario: Mark seems to struggle when asked to read aloud a passage with a peer or an adult. • When presented with a challenging task, Mark can engage in various off-task behaviors (whining, complaining, focusing on other students, classroom wandering). • An FBA was done to identify the function of Mark’s behavior. His behaviors stemmed from either access to tangibles (sensory) and escape. • Based on FCT definitions, what definition strategy would you provide?
Teaching Mark FCT • Mark is taught that he can ask for a break using his ‘helping hand’ card or verbally requesting a break. The breaks last between 1-3 minutes depending on the choice he makes. • This involves Mark’s self-regulation and teacher monitoring.
Limitations of FCT If the function of the behavior is not appropriately defined, FCT will not provide appropriate strategies to reduce the target behavior. What about for a child whose behavior serves multiple functions?
Yet More Limitations • Is FCT applicable in multiple settings? • Is the contingency of the behavior decreasing? • Limitations on different aspects of communication. Emphasis on imperative (requests) rather than declarative.
References • Alberto, P. A, & Troutman, A. C. (2003). Applied behavior analysis for teachers (6th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Merrill Prentice Hall. • Casey, S.D. & Merical, C.L. (2006). The use of functional communication training without additional treatment procedures in an inclusive school setting. Behavioral Disorders, 32(1), 46-54. • Cooper, Heron, & Heward, (2007). Applied Behavior Analysis (2nd Ed). Canada: Pearson. • Durand, V.M. & Carr, E.G. (1991). Functional communication training to reduce challenging behavior: Maintenance and application in new settings. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 24(2). • Durand, V.M. & Merges, E. (2001). Functional communication training: A contemporary behavior analytic intervention for problem behaviors. Focus on Autism and other Developmental Disabilities, 16(2), 110-119. • Gast, D. L. (2010). Single subject research methodology in behavioral sciences. New York: Routledge. • Harding, J.W., Wacker, D.P., Berg, W.K., Winborn-Kemmerer, L., Lee, J.F., & Ibrahimovic, M. (2009). Analysis of multiple manding topographies during functional communication training. Education and Treatment of Children, 32(1). • Shirley, M.J., Iwata, B.A., Kahng, S.W., Mazaleski, J.L., & Lerman, D.C. (1997). Does functional communication training compete with ongoing contingencies of reinforcement? An analysis during response acquisition and maintenance. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 30(1). • Skinner, B. F. (1957). Verbal behavior. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall. • Tiger, J.H., Hanley, G.P., & Bruzek, J. (2008). Functional communication training: A review and practical guide. Behavior Analysis Practice 1(1). • Wacker, D.P., Steege, M.W., Northup, J., Sasso, G., Berg, W., Reimers, T., Cooper, L., Cigrand, K., & Donn, Lisa (1990). Component analysis of functional communication training across three topographies of severe behavior problems. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 23(4).