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MODULE: Functional Communication Training (FCT)


Functional Communication Training (FCT) is a practice that emerged from the research on Functional Behavioral Assessment (FBA). The purpose of FBA is to determine the function of a behavior that is interfering with a learner’s growth and development (although this behavior may or may not have communicative intent) (Doss and Reichle, 1989). These kinds of behaviors often are called “interfering behaviors” because they inhibit the learner from acquiring key social, communication, and academic skills. The interfering behavior that is identified to be the focus of the intervention is sometimes referred to as the target behavior. For example, the FBA may determine that a seventh grader flees from science class during group work to avoid the increased noise level in the room. Once the FBA has determined the function of a single interfering behavior, or a group of behaviors that all serve the same function, FCT is used to teach a new, communicative act that replaces the interfering behavior (i.e., the communicative act is functionally equivalent to the target behavior). Using the previous example, the seventh grader may be taught to hand the teacher a card with a picture requesting that he work in the quiet library when the noise level becomes too much for him. FCT typically involves the teaching of a new behavior while not providing reinforcement for the interfering behavior. Gradually, learners stop using the interfering behavior when they realize that it is no longer effective in getting them what they want. 

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