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MODULE: Functional Communication Training (FCT)

What Other Factors Should Be Considered Before Initiating A FCT Program?

Teachers/practitioners should talk with adults and peers who are potential communicative partners prior to their engagement with the learner to teach them how to respond appropriately to the learner’s use of the replacement behavior (Doss & Reichle, 1989). For example, communicative partners may be taught the meanings of signs, introduced to a speech generating device, or taught the meaning of different pictures. Certainly, teachers/practitioners should explain to peers why it is important for them to respond to the communicative act in a certain way (e.g., “If Ben says, ‘Leave me alone!’ you must leave his space and find something else to do so that he learns to use these words instead of pushing.”). Communicative partner training also must include directions to not reinforce the interfering behavior.

Certain environmental factors contribute to the success of FCT. For example, learners with ASD should be given opportunities to engage in choice making which provides them with some control of their day. Also, classes with heterogeneous populations, rather than classes full of learners with behavioral needs, may allow teachers to attend to the learner with ASD while other students are working independently. Finally, increased support in the classroom allows teachers and other adults to attend to the learner with ASD (Durand & Merges, 2001). For instance, additional staff may be needed when replacement behaviors are initially being taught. As learners become more independent with and successful at using new skills, additional staff can be faded out of the environment.

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