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

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Symposium #290
CE Offered: BACB
A Continuum of Evaluations of Functional Communication Training: From the Small to the Large Scale
Sunday, May 28, 2017
4:00 PM–4:50 PM
Convention Center Mile High Ballroom 1C/D
Area: DDA/VRB; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Cara L. Phillips (Kennedy Krieger Institute)
CE Instructor: Cara L. Phillips, Ph.D.

The impact of establishing or improving verbal behavior repertoires on both skill acquisition and problem behavior reduction for individuals with intellectual disabilities cannot be over-stated. As such, verbal behavior in the form of requesting, or manding, is often targeted through some system of functional communication training (FCT). The current symposium illustrates the breadth of the research on FCT, from a fine-grained analysis of the level of discrimination in an individual?s repertoire to broader questions regarding the relationship between problem behavior and manding. In the first presentation, Samantha Young from the Kennedy Krieger Institute will discuss methods to verify that participant manding was under the control of the relevant variables. In the second, Stephanie Kincaid from Rollins College will present her study examining the relationship between the sequence of exposure to FCT and extinction and resurgence effects. In the third study, Laura C. Chezan from Old Dominion University will present a meta-analysis of 26 studies of FCT, examining the data with respect to both overall efficacy and any participant or intervention characteristics that impact that efficacy. In all three studies, the authors will discuss the clinical implications of their respective findings.

Instruction Level: Intermediate
Keyword(s): FCT, manding, problem behavior
Further Procedures to Verify Discriminated Manding
SAMANTHA R. YOUNG (Kennedy Krieger Institute), Cara L. Phillips (Kennedy Krieger Institute), Jolene R. Sy (University of Maryland, Baltimore County), Jennifer R. Zarcone (Kennedy Krieger Institute)
Abstract: Interventions based on the principles of behavior analysis are highly effective for establishing communication skills in individuals with developmental disabilities. Picture card exchange is a commonly used method of communication. Although training procedures using picture cards can lead to the acquisition of communication, it is unclear if the manding is discriminated (i.e., accurate requests for different items using multiple picture cards). The picture exchange communication system (PECS) utilizes correspondence checks to ensure indiscriminate picture exchange does not occur by prompting an individual to take the item corresponding to the picture card that was exchanged. However, a correspondence check does not explicitly assess the establishing operation (EO) that led the individual to request the item (Gutierrez et al., 2007). Gutierrez et al. (2007) directly manipulated the EO in order to verify that manding was discriminated. Correspondence checks and EO manipulations have the potential to be used together to verify the occurrence of discriminated manding. The purpose of the current study was to replicate and extend the work of Gutierrez et al. (2007) by including pre-session access and a correspondence check in the EO manipulation phase. Results provide support of the utility of including the correspondence check to verify discriminated manding.

Resurgence of Problem Behavior Following Functional Communication Training in Three-Phase and Four-Phase Resurgence Procedures

STEPHANIE L. KINCAID (Rollins College), Mindy Christine Scheithauer (Marcus Autism Center), Sarah J. Miller (Marcus Autism Center; Emory University School of Medicine Miller), Nathan Call (Marcus Autism Center)

Resurgence describes the recurrence of a previously reinforced behavior following the extinction of a subsequently reinforced alternative behavior. This phenomenon may account for some instances of problem behavior recurrence following functional communication training (FCT). The current study evaluated whether a reduced resurgence effect would be observed when extinction for problem behavior (EXT) was presented prior to the introduction of alternative reinforcement (i.e., 4-phase resurgence procedure), relative to the more commonly studied arrangement in which FCT and EXT are introduced simultaneously (i.e., 3-phase resurgence procedure). Three children receiving services for the treatment of severe problem behavior participated in the current study. When resurgence was observed, greater resurgence occurred following the 3-phase procedure, suggesting that extinction of problem behavior prior to the introduction of alternative reinforcement may decrease resurgence when alternative reinforcement is discontinued. Implications of this finding for treatment of problem behavior with functional communication training are discussed.

A Meta-Analysis of Functional Communication Training Effects on Problem Behavior and Alternative Communicative Response
LAURA C. CHEZAN (Old Dominion University), Katie Wolfe (University of South Carolina), Erik Drasgow (University of South Carolina)
Abstract: We conducted a meta-analysis of single-case research design studies on functional communication training (FCT). First, we used the What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) Standards to evaluate the quality of 44 studies identified for the analysis. The 26 studies that met WWC Standards were included in the remaining analyses. Next, we calculated effect sizes for problem behavior and alternative communicative responses using Tau-U. Finally, we examined several potential moderators to evaluate whether any participant or intervention characteristics are associated with increased effectiveness of FCT. Our results indicate that FCT was effective in decreasing problem behavior, with a overall effect size of .68, and in increasing alternative communicative responses, with a mean effect size of .65. For problem behavior, the intervention was more effective for preschoolers than for adolescents, and for individuals with disabilities other than Autism Spectrum Disorder. For the alternative communicative response, the intervention was more effective when the alternative response was verbal or involved multiple types of communicative responses than when the alternative response relied on aided alternative and augmentative responses. Implications of the results for practitioners and future research on FCT are discussed.



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