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Functional Communication Training (FCT)

Functional Communication Training

What is Functional Communication Training (FCT)?

Functional Communication Training (FCT) is a communication procedure in which teaches an alternative behavior/response that results in the same reinforcement used to maintain the problem behavior/response. Through Functional Communication Training, differential reinforcement is implemented to reinforce the new communicative response/behavior and puts the problem behavior that was maintained by reinforcement on extinction. FCT teaches a new response/behavior for the purpose of promoting functional communication.

FCT helps autistics learn to use communication strategies to get their individual needs met. For example, Josie is a 49-year-old woman diagnosed with a severe intellectual disability. She has very limited language skills, but has capabilities of expressing one-word vocal responses. She engages in self-injurious behavior in which she slaps the sides of her face with her hands. After a functional assessment was conducted, the results demonstrated that the function of the behavior is attention. Through FCT, Josie would learn to request attention by tapping on a person’s shoulder and verbally communicating the word, “Hi”, since she has a very limited verbal language. The reinforcer would be attention, so immediate reinforcement would be provided to Josie in the beginning, and then the schedule of reinforcement is thinned overtime. By having Josie learn to request attention, then she would get her individual needs met. FCT helps autistic people improve their communication skills by using strategies to teach various ways to communicate with others in the environment.

Have you tried using Functional Communication Training for your client, student, or child? Share your thoughts in the comments section!

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