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.


43rd Annual Convention; Denver, CO; 2017

Event Details

Previous Page


Symposium #31
CE Offered: BACB
Functional Communication Training and Schedule Thinning: Current Advances and Methodological Refinements
Saturday, May 27, 2017
10:00 AM–11:50 AM
Convention Center Mile High Ballroom 1A/B
Area: DDA/AUT; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Mahshid Ghaemmaghami (University of the Pacific)
Discussant: Jeffrey H. Tiger (University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee)
CE Instructor: Mahshid Ghaemmaghami, Ph.D.
Abstract: In this symposium, we will review efficacious strategies for teaching communication responses during functional communication training (FCT) while maintaining low levels of problem behavior and maximizing the complexity and specificity of the communication response and thinning the schedule of reinforcement. Our first presentation will focus on a comparison of prompting strategies prior to and following problem behavior during the initial stages of treatment. Our second presenter will demonstrate how to effectively differentiate the initial omnibus mand (“My way, please”) into specific mands without a resurgence of problem behavior. Our third presenter will review effective alternative reinforcement procedures to use within a multiple schedule when thinning reinforcement to more practical levels. And finally, our last presenter will focus on an integration of FCT, tolerance training, and chained schedules to treat automatically-maintained, non-injurious stereotypy.
Instruction Level: Intermediate
Keyword(s): chained schedule, FCT, multiple schedule, Prompting

An Evaluation of Prompting Procedures During Functional Communication Training

ROBIN K. LANDA (Western New England University), Gregory P. Hanley (Western New England University), Mahshid Ghaemmaghami (University of the Pacific)

Functional communication training (FCT) is an efficacious treatment that often results in an immediate reduction of problem behavior (Tiger, Hanley, & Bruzek, 2008). However, the specific prompting strategies used during initial phases of FCT are either not described or are inconsistent across studies (e.g., Gibson, Pennington, Stenhoff, & Hopper, 2010; Lalli, Casey, & Kates, 1995). In particular, the specific methods by which functional communication responses (FCRs) should be prompted prior to and following problem behavior are unclear. In this study, we evaluated the efficacy of immediate and delayed prompts to emit the FCR following problem behavior when combined with prompts to emit the FCR prior to problem behavior that were presented using either a fixed 3-s delay or a progressive 0- to 3-s delay. For our participant, a young child with autism, we found that significant reductions in problem behavior and optimal rates of FCRs were only achieved when immediate prompts following problem behavior were combined with a progressive 0- to 3-s prompt delay. Results suggest that the manner in which prompts are delivered prior to problem behavior may be more important than the manner in which they are delivered following problem behavior. Interobserver agreement was assessed for more than 20% of sessions with a minimum agreement of 80%.

Differentiating Functional Communication Responses
SHANNON WARD (New England Center for Children; Western New England University), Gregory P. Hanley (Western New England University), Christine Warner (New England Center for Children; Western New Engla), Ellen Gage (New England Center for Children; Western New Engla)
Abstract: Functional communication training (FCT) typically begins by teaching a simple, low effort response to replace problem behavior (Horner & Day, 1991). A low effort response is often taught at the onset of FCT, but a complex and socially appropriate response is desired at the terminal goal of treatment (Tiger, Hanley, & Bruzek, 2008). When problem behavior is demonstrated to be sensitive to a combination of reinforcers (Hanley, Jin, Vanselow, & Hanratty, 2014), a simple omnibus mand that allows the participant to access all relative reinforcers simultaneously may be necessary at the beginning of FCT (Hanley et al., 2014; Santiago et al., 2016). However, teaching an omnibus mand does need to preclude the acquisition of specific functional communication responses (FCR). In this study, we demonstrated how to effectively differentiate the initial omnibus mand (“My way, please”) into specific mands (“all done”, “May I have my toys, please?” and “play with me”) with two young learners diagnosed with autism while maintaining low rates of problem behavior. A concurrent operant and changing criterion design was used to teach both participants an omnibus mand and then specific mands for all putative reinforcers identified in a functional analysis.
Comparing Alternative-Reinforcement Procedures to Enhance Functional Communication Training During Reinforcement Schedule Thinning
AMANDA ZANGRILLO (University of Nebraska Medical Center, Munroe-Meye), Ashley Marie Fuhrman (University of Nebraska Medical Center), Brian D. Greer (Munroe-Meyer Institute, University of Nebraska Medical Center), Wayne W. Fisher (Munroe-Meyer Institute, University of Nebraska Medical Center)
Abstract: We propose a method of identifying effective alternative-reinforcement procedures appropriate for use when treating destructive behavior using a multiple schedule to thin reinforcement during functional communication training (FCT). Following a functional analysis (Study 1) and an initial demonstration of the efficacy of FCT as treatment for the destructive behavior of two boys (Study 2), reinforcement schedule thinning via a multiple schedule resulted in increased rates of destructive behavior for both boys. In Study 3, we compared alternative-reinforcement procedures embedded within the multiple schedule using an alternating-treatments design. Results for both boys suggested at least one effective alternative reinforcement procedure that maintained favorable treatment outcomes as we continued thinning the reinforcement schedule (Jacob) or targeted additional functions of destructive behavior (Alan). We discuss these findings in light of future research that may build on this approach to empirically identifying effective variations of FCT procedures while thinning reinforcement schedules to more practical levels.

Treating Stereotypy With FCT, Tolerance Training, and Response Chaining

JESSICA SLATON (Western New England University; Nashoba Learning G), Gregory P. Hanley (Western New England University), Kate Raftery (Nashoba Learning Group)

The current study integrates the treatment package for socially mediated problem behavior reported by Hanley et al. (2014) with the chained schedule treatment for automatically maintained non-injurious stereotypy reported by Slaton and Hanley (2016). A 10-year-old boy with autism who engaged in high frequency stereotypy was taught to mand for access to stereotypy, wait for the mand to be granted before engaging in stereotypy, give an appropriate response when the mand was occasionally denied, and complete a short series of academic demands before earning access to stereotypy. Stimuli were correlated with periods during which stereotypy was allowed (S+) and periods during which it was blocked (S-). During the S- component, stereotypy was reduced from an average of 71% of component duration to near-zero levels, accuracy with simple academic tasks increased from an average of 29% to an average of 80%, an independent mand for stereotypy was established and then shaped to include a mand frame, and an independent tolerance response for the denial of this mand was also established. A shift in response allocation for (untargeted) vocal stereotypy was observed as well. The importance of contingent access when treating stereotypy will be discussed.




Back to Top
Modifed by Eddie Soh