Academic journal article The Journal of Early and Intensive Behavioral Intervention

An Evaluation of Multiple Dependent Variables across Distinct Classes of Antecedent Stimuli Pre and Post Functional Communication Training

Academic journal article The Journal of Early and Intensive Behavioral Intervention

An Evaluation of Multiple Dependent Variables across Distinct Classes of Antecedent Stimuli Pre and Post Functional Communication Training

Article excerpt

Abstract

Functional analyses of problem behavior for 4 young boys with developmental delays showed that problem behaviors were maintained by both negative and positive reinforcement. Functional communication training was conducted with one set of training stimuli in which the child's mother presented a work task in the family living room. Pretreatment probes were conducted with up to 10 sets of generalization stimuli that varied across tasks, settings, and people. Post treatment probes were conducted across the same generalization stimulus sets. Results for four dependent variables (problem behavior, task completion, manding, and social interactions) indicated that (a) problem behavior occurred across some but not all generalization stimulus sets during pretreatment; (b) following training, reductions of 90% or greater were observed within the context of the training stimuli; (c) reductions in problem behavior were observed for 70% of the post treatment generalization stimulus sets, but the reductions were not as large (M = 61%) as those observed with the training stimuli; and (d) the most consistent change observed during post treatment probes of generalization stimulus sets was increased task completion. Parents of all participants completed a behavior rating form and reported reductions in problem behavior across activities.

Keywords: stimulus generalization, FCT, response generalization, developmental disabilities, severe problem behavior.

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Functional communication training (FCT) has been an effective procedure for reducing the occurrence of problem behavior and increasing appropriate communicative responses for people who engage in destructive behaviors that are maintained by social stimuli, such as gaining attention, gaining access to preferred items, or escaping task demands (e.g., Brown et al., 2000; Carr & Durand, 1985; Fisher, Kuhn, & Thompson, 1998; Hanley, Iwata, & Thompson, 2001; Wacker et al., 1998). To date, the majority of research on FCT has focused on the effects of treatment within a specific training context, and the evaluations have been limited to the short-term effects of FCT on the occurrence of problem behavior and appropriate communication. To further evaluate FCT, analyses are needed on both stimulus generalization (e.g., responding across untrained antecedent stimuli such as persons, tasks, and settings) and changes in other positive social responses, such task completion and social interactions, following the completion of FCT.

A few studies have evaluated the effects of FCT on behavior beyond the training context (Durand & Carr, 1991, 1992; and Durand, 1999). Durand and Carr (1991) demonstrated that reductions in problem behavior and increases in appropriate communication were maintained across untrained contexts (classroom settings, novel care providers) following FCT for 3 boys whose problem behavior was maintained by escape from academic demands. The reductions in problem behavior were maintained across non-trained stimuli over a 2-year period for 2 of the 3 participants without additional training. Similarly, Durand (1999) taught students with severe disabilities to use augmentative communication devices in their classroom to request stimuli that had been identified as maintaining problem behavior. In each case, FCT resulted in increased use of the communication device and a reduction in problem behavior in the classroom. Furthermore, use of the device increased and problem behavior decreased in community settings following the completion of FCT.

Derby et al. (1997) evaluated the effects of FCT across multiple dependent variables including problem behavior, manding, toy play, and positive social behaviors with 4 young children over a 2-year period. Derby et al. demonstrated that the effects of FCT were not limited to problem behavior and manding, which were consequated directly within the FCT package. The results showed that gains in toy play and positive social behaviors occurred and were maintained for the 2-year period. …

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