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.


46th Annual Convention; Washington DC; 2020

Event Details

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Symposium #61
CE Offered: BACB
Advances in Functional Communication Training
Saturday, May 23, 2020
11:00 AM–12:50 PM
Walter E. Washington Convention Center, Level 1, Room 103
Area: DDA/AUT; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Margaret Rachel Gifford (Marquette University)
Discussant: Wayne W. Fisher (Munroe-Meyer Institute, University of Nebraska Medical Center)
CE Instructor: Margaret Rachel Gifford, M.S.

Functional communication training is the most empirically supported intervention for the severe problem behavior exhibited by individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Despite this strong research base, the translation from the highly controlled clinical settings in which the process has been described to more normative environments has been imperfect. This group of researchers presents work addressing the challenges of this transition including the use of antecedent strategies, the programming of procedures to support delay tolerance, the transition from motor to vocal alternative responses, and in visual analysis strategies.

Instruction Level: Intermediate
Keyword(s): Function-Based Intervention, Functional Assessment
Target Audience:

Practicing BCBA's who see individuals displaying severe problem behavior

Learning Objectives: Participants will identify antecedent strategies to reduce problem behavior during FCT Participants will describe fading steps to transition from motor to vocal functional communication responses Participants will identify strategies to promote delay tolerance given delayed reinforcement contingencies after FCT.
Sustaining Behavior Reduction by Transitioning the Topography of the Functional Communication Response During FCT
KAYLA RECHELLE RANDALL (University of Nebraska Medical Center's Munroe-Meyer Institute), Brian D. Greer (Children's Specialized Hospital - Rutgers University Center for Autism Research, Education, and Services; Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School), Ryan Kimball (University of Saint Joseph), Sean Smith (University of Nebraska Medical Center)
Abstract: Research on functional communication training (FCT) has shown that when behavior analysts select a functional communication response (FCR) they can physically guide (e.g., card touch), rates of destructive behavior are generally lower than had they selected a vocal FCR because the former approach minimizes exposure to the establishing operation for destructive behavior (DeRosa, Fisher, & Steege, 2015; Fisher et al., 2018). However, interventions that include alternative response materials require the continued availability of those materials for the FCR. When intervention materials go missing, destructive behavior may recur more quickly or at higher rates than had those materials remained in place, yet become inoperative (e.g., Kimball, Kelley, Podlesnik, Forton, & Hinkle, 2018). Therefore, it may be ideal to initially train individuals to use an FCR that can be physically guided but later transition that communication response to a topography (e.g., vocal FCR) that cannot be lost. We evaluated this possibility in a translational study. In Experiment 1, we compared rates of target behavior during FCT when the card-based FCR was removed to rates during FCT when the vocal FCR was placed on extinction. In Experiment 2, we evaluated a potential solution by systematically transitioning a card-based FCR to a vocal FCR.
Incorporating Antecedent Strategies in Functional Communication Training for Problem Behavior Maintained by Social Avoidance
SARAH SLOCUM (Marcus Autism Center and Emory School of Medicine), Mindy Christine Scheithauer (Marcus Autism Center)
Abstract: We initially implemented standard functional communication training (FCT) to treat problem behavior maintained by social avoidance. After a reversal, we embedded a multiple schedule in which the subject had to tolerate periods of time in which requests to be left alone would not be reinforced. As we increased the s-delta interval in the multiple schedule, the intervention fell apart. We were not even able to re-capture therapeutic treatment effects under a fixed-ratio 1 schedule of reinforcement. Subsequently, we conducted the same intervention first evaluating FCT followed by an embedded multiple schedule; however, we also included some antecedent strategies such as pairing and fading the averseness of social intervention from the beginning of our treatment evaluation to increase tolerance. The implications of embedding additional antecedent strategies in the treatment of social-negative functions for problem behavior will be discussed.
Providing Noncontingent, Alternative, Functional Reinforcers during Delays following Functional Communication Training
MARGARET RACHEL GIFFORD (Marquette University), Meagan Sumter (Wester Psychological and Counseling Services PC), Jeffrey H. Tiger (Marquette University), Hannah Effertz (Marquette University), Caitlin Fulton (University of Nebraska Medical Center)
Abstract: Functional Communication Training (FCT) involves arranging extinction for problem behavior and reinforcement for a more desirable, functionally equivalent, communicative response (FCR). Although effective under ideal arrangements, the introduction of delays to reinforcement following the FCR can result in increased problem behavior. Austin and Tiger (2015) showed that for individuals whose problem behavior was sensitive to multiple sources of reinforcement, providing access to alternative, functional reinforcers during delays mitigated this increase in problem behavior during delay fading. The current study replicated the procedures of Austin and Tiger with two individuals displaying multiply controlled problem behavior. Providing alternative functional reinforcers reduced problem behavior during 10- min delays for both participants without requiring delay fading.
Using Dual-Criteria Methods to Supplement Visual Inspection: Replication and Extension
JOHN FALLIGANT (Kennedy Krieger Institute & Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine), Molly K McNulty (Kennedy Krieger), Michael Kranak (Kennedy Krieger Institute, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine), Nicole Lynn Hausman (Kennedy Krieger Institute), Griffin Rooker (Kennedy Krieger Institute)
Abstract: The dual-criteria and conservative dual-criteria methods effectively supplement visual analysis with both simulated and published datasets. However, extant research evaluating the probability of observing false positive outcomes with published data may be affected by case selection bias and publication bias. Thus, the probability of obtaining false positive outcomes using these methods with data collected in the course of clinical care is unknown. We extracted baseline data from clinical datasets using a consecutive controlled case-series design and calculated the proportion of false positive outcomes for baseline phases of various lengths. Results replicated previous findings from Lanovaz, Huxley, and Dufour (2017), as the proportion of false positive outcomes generally decreased as the number of points in Phase B (but not Phase A) increased using both methods. Extending these findings, results also revealed differences in the rate of false positive outcomes across different types of baselines.



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