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.


34th Annual Convention; Chicago, IL; 2008

Event Details

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Symposium #155
Functional Communication Training: Efficacy, Maintenance, and Generalization
Sunday, May 25, 2008
9:00 AM–10:20 AM
Stevens 2
Area: DDA; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Louis P. Hagopian (Kennedy Krieger Institute)
Discussant: Mark V. Durand (University of South Florida, St. Petersburg)
Abstract: Functional Communication Training (FCT) has been shown to be an effective treatment for problem behavior. Each of the current papers addresses issues related to the effectiveness, generalization or maintenance of FCT. First, Gregory Hanley, Nicole Heal and Tara Fahmie present a study showing that their Preschool Life Skills program, which includes the class wide teaching of FCT, was effective at reducing problem behavior and increasing adaptive skills when generalized to two Head Start classrooms. Next, Terry Falcomata, Joel Ringdahl, and Tory Christensen address an issue related to the effectiveness of FCT responses. These authors present data showing that the proficiency in which an individual can independently emit a specific mand affects the effectiveness of that mand when used within a communication-based treatment for severe problem behavior. Finally, Louis Hagopian, Eric Boelter, and David Jarmolowicz present a quantitative review of the literature on thinning the schedules or reinforcement following FCT. This review describes the schedule arrangements used for this purpose and the outcomes obtained, methods used to progress the thinning schedule, and supplemental treatment components used to achieve terminal goals. Collectively, these papers address important issues related to the long-term efficacy of communication-based treatments for problem behavior.
Functional Communication Training Prior to the Development of Severe Problem Behavior: A Systematic Replication of the Preschool Life Skills Program.
GREGORY P. HANLEY (Western New England University), Nicole Heal (The May Institute), Tara A. Fahmie (University of Florida)
Abstract: A prominent aspect of the Preschool Life Skills (PLS) program described by Hanley, Heal, Tiger, and Ingvarsson (2007) to minimize problem behavior likely in preschoolers attending center-based care was the class-wide implementation of functional communication training. Although the program reduced problem behavior by developing functional communicative and other social skills, the generality of the study was limited by implementation in a university preschool characterized by an unusually rich ratio of college-educated teachers to children and the adoption of an explicit evidence-based program for minimizing problem behavior. The current study sought to determine the efficacy of the PLS program in two community-based Head Start classrooms characterized by typical teacher-child ratios and varied approaches for addressing problem behavior operating in the classrooms. Baseline observations occurred during situations known to evoke problem behavior (or pro-social behavior). Following baselines, children participated in scripted role plays for each skill; opportunities for teaching the skills were then embedded into typically-scheduled activities throughout each day. The effects of the program on problem behavior and skill development were evaluated in a multiple baseline design (all interobserver agreement exceeded 85%). The program resulted in a 67% reduction in problem behavior and over a 3-fold increase in skills, which was generally consistent with the results of the initial study.
The Effect of Mand Proficiency on Functional Communication-Based Treatment of Severe Behavior Problems.
TERRY S. FALCOMATA (University of Iowa), Joel Eric Ringdahl (University of Iowa), Tory J. Christensen (University of Iowa)
Abstract: We conducted an assessment to determine the relative proficiency with which 3 individuals with developmental disabilities used different types of communication modalities. The effects of varying levels of proficiency were then assessed during implementation of functional communication training (FCT). During Phase 1, 10 trials were conducted with each of at least three modalities of communication including (e.g., manual sign, card hand, and microswitch activation). Data were collected on the level of prompting needed to occasion the response. During Phase 2, the modalities associated with the highest and middle percentages of independence were incorporated into FCT. Results of the proficiency assessment combined with FCT outcomes suggested FCT was most effective when the high proficiency modality was used. Results have implications for determining what response should be included as part of FCT-based treatment of severe behavior problems. Interobserver agreement was obtained during at least 20% of sessions and averaged above 90%.
Thinning Schedules of Reinforcement following Functional Communication Training: A Quantitative Analysis.
LOUIS P. HAGOPIAN (Kennedy Krieger Institute), Eric Boelter (Kennedy Krieger Institute), David P. Jarmolowicz (West Virginia University)
Abstract: One difficulty observed in the literature on Functional Communication Training (FCT) is the reemergence of problem behavior when, subsequent to training, the schedule of reinforcement is thinned to make the treatment more practical in natural environments. The current paper reviews the published literature in which schedules of reinforcement following FCT have been thinned for this purpose. A quantitative review of this literature is provided including a review of each of the schedule arrangements that have been used for this purpose and outcomes obtained, a description of methods for progressing toward the terminal schedule, and a description of supplemental treatment components aimed at maintaining low levels of problem behavior during schedule thinning. Conceptual issues related to the reemergence of problem behavior during schedule thinning are discussed and areas for future research are provided.



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