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 #426
CE Offered: BACB
Advances in Functional Communication Training to Treat Challenging Behavior in Children With Autism Spectrum Disorders
Monday, May 25, 2020
8:00 AM–8:50 AM
Walter E. Washington Convention Center, Level 1, Room 102
Area: AUT/DDA; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Beth Pokorski (STAR Inititative, University of Virginia)
CE Instructor: Beth Pokorski, Ph.D.

Functional communication training is one of the most popular treatment approaches for challenging behavior among children with autism spectrum disorder. However, challenges pertaining to response variability, resurgence of challenging behavior, and overuse of a single mand may inhibit sustained implementation of FCT. This symposium presents three single case design studies on adaptations and extensions of FCT to address these challenges. The first paper evaluates FCT with lag schedules of reinforcement with preschool aged children on persistence and generalization of mands and the reduction of challenging behavior resurgence. The second paper illustrates a procedure for mand discrimination training for children with autism who communicate using augmentative and alternative communication. The third paper demonstrates the utility of comparing different function-based mands, not only in treating challenging behavior, but also in evaluating the validity of synthesized trial-based functional analysis results. Suggestions for further extending FCT in research and implications for practice are discussed.

Instruction Level: Intermediate
Target Audience:

Board Certified Behavior Analysts and practitioners who design and implement function-based interventions for challenging behavior in applied settings.

Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of this symposium, participants will be able to (1) describe methods for promoting response variability following functional communication training, (2) identify instructional procedures for teaching discrimination training within functional communication training, and (3) state how FCT can be used to evaluate the accuracy of functional analysis results.

Functional Communication Training With Lag Reinforcement: A Systematic Replication

BETH POKORSKI (STAR Inititative, University of Virginia), Erin E. Barton (Vanderbilt University ), Blair Lloyd (Vanderbilt University), Ana Paula Martinez (Vanderbilt University), Kelly Willard (Vanderbilt University)

Functional communication training (FCT) is an evidence-based intervention that while often effective, can result in rote responding, reduced generalizability of target behavior, and resurgence of challenging behavior (CB) during treatment lapses. Lag schedules of reinforcement have been successfully used to address these concerns. This study is a systematic, conceptual replication of Falcomata and colleagues’ (2018) single case analysis, in which an increasing lag schedule was applied within FCT to increase the variability and persistence of appropriate responding while maintaining low levels of CB during treatment. We replicated and extended this research by including participants aged 3-5, retaining mand materials during baseline, comparing contingency strength between unreinforced mands and subsequent mands or CB across conditions, assessing generalization to new communication partners, and assessing social validity. Our replication provides evidence regarding the effects of the intervention on appropriate communication and CB during treatment and lapses in treatment with young children with autism.


Adding Nuance to Discrimination Training for a Child With Complex Communication Needs and Challenging Behavior

MALLORY LAMERS (Vanderbilt University), Joseph Michael Lambert (Vanderbilt University), Bailey Copeland (Vanderbilt University), Ipshita` Banerjee (Peabody College, Vanderbilt University), Kate Bailey (Vanderbilt University)

Children with autism and complex communication needs often use augmentative and alternative communication systems (AAC) to express wants and needs. When children request something that is unavailable, the denied request can lead to problem behavior. Teaching children to discriminate the availability of reinforcers can decrease the risk of appropriate communication leading to problem behavior. One potential solution is to introduce discrimination training, a strategy frequently used to reduce challenging behavior, within a child’s AAC system. This study adds nuance to discrimination training by signaling the availability of reinforcement within an AAC system. We used a multiple probe across behaviors design to examine the effects of implementing discrimination training through visual cues into a low tech AAC device. Results revealed a functional relation between the use of discrimination training and the child’s contextually appropriate mands for preferred items.

FCT to Evaluate Incongruent Results of Synthesized Versus Isolated Contingencies in Trial-Based Functional Analysis
CATHARINE LORY (Purdue University), Mandy J. Rispoli (Purdue University), Emily Gregori (University of Illinois-Chicago), Joseph Michael Lambert (Vanderbilt University), So Yeon Kim (Purdue University)
Abstract: Synthesized functional analysis models have gained attention in recent years as a means of enhancing the efficiency of functional assessment and function-based intervention development. Yet most of the research has evaluated the results of synthesized functional analysis approaches by comparing results to traditional functional analysis models. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the accuracy of synthesized versus isolated contingencies in a trial-based functional analysis protocol with three young children with autism. The accuracy of the isolated and synthesized trial-based functional analysis results were evaluated in a concurrent operants arrangement of mands taught using FCT. Results showed that most often selected the mand corresponding to isolated rather than synthesized contingencies.



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