Advances in Functional Communication Training: Recent Procedural Refinements that Promote Durable Treatment Outcomes (Adam Briggs)

Functional communication training (FCT; Carr & Durand, 1985) is a well-established treatment for socially mediated problem behavior exhibited by children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (Kurtz et al., 2011). FCT involves the delivery of the reinforcer responsible for maintenance of problem behavior contingent on a functionally equivalent communication response (FCR), usually in combination with extinction of problem behavior (Tiger et al., 2008). Although highly effective, FCT has been shown to fail in some cases following initial success (e.g., Greer et al., 2016; Saini et al., 2018), and previous reports have suggested that low rates of behavior do not always maintain when the schedule of reinforcement for the FCR is thinned (Briggs et al., 2018) or when FCT is implemented by caregivers in the everyday environment (Meuthing et al., 2020). Therefore, treatment relapse in FCT can be viewed as the failure to maintain treatment effects when environmental conditions change. That is, relapse during FCT could be regarded as the failure to generalize treatment gains across time, settings, situations, or individuals (Pritchard et al., 2014). Recent research focused on integrating stimulus control technology with consequent-based refinements offers promising strategies for promoting the practicality, generality, and durability of FCT treatment effects. Following a primer on FCT, recent advances in FCT research will be reviewed and their implications for practice will be discussed.
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Adam Briggs, Ph.D., BCBA-D, LBA-MI
Presented at the 2020 Michigan Autism Conference
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