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MODULE: Functional Communication Training (FCT)
Who Can Use FCT and Where Can It Be Used?
FCT can be used effectively with children and youth with ASD, regardless of cognitive level and/or expressive communicative abilities. For example, nonverbal, lower-functioning learners with ASD may learn to activate a speech generating device to request a break. Higher-functioning learners may be taught to say, “Please don’t touch me,” rather than hitting peers in line.
The evidence base shows that FCT is an effective practice that can be used with learners ranging from 3 to 15 years of age. Although FCT has been used with adults, this literature review focused on learners aged 0-21 years.
The studies that comprise this evidence-base were conducted in clinical, school-based, and home environments. To promote generalization, it is important that FCT is implemented in multiple environments, such as school, vocational settings, group homes, and community sites (Durand & Merges, 2001). Home programs that involve training parents to implement FCT also have been shown to be successful (Mancil, Conroy, Nakao, & Alter, 2006). Within these locations, training should take place anywhere the interfering behavior is exhibited. For example, if a learner always uses autistic leading to request favorite books, FCT should not be limited to a therapy room, but should also take place in the classroom, in the library, and anywhere else the learner requests books.
To promote generalization of newly acquired skills, it is important to consider who will be helping provide the intervention. Although any adult with access to the learner may implement FCT, having the learner interact with multiple communicative partners helps the learner become skilled at communicating with different people, rather than becoming dependent on a specific communicative partner.
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