Increasing Communication Through Functional Communication Training 

Increasing Communication Through Functional Communication Training 

Children with autism spectrum disorder may struggle with communication. They may have no way to communicate so that others understand what they are trying to say. Functional communication is when an individual can independently communicate their wants and needs to their support system and socialize with their peers. Communication can include speech, sign language, picture exchange systems, or other assistive devices. Having functional communication gives an individual a way to express themselves rather than engaging in challenging behaviors.

What is functional communication training? 

Challenging behavior can occur due to a child not having the words he/she needs to communicate. These behaviors that could arise include aggression and self-injurious behavior (SIB). The reasoning behind these challenging behaviors could be due to attention, denied access to items or activities, and escape (Durand & Moskowitz, 2015).

Board Certified Behavior Analysts (BCBAs) work with each child to assess what communication strategies may work best for them. A lot of times, there is plenty of trial and error. There are both verbal and nonverbal communication strategies. If you have questions about functional communication BCBAs are happy to help.

Who benefits from the use of FCT? 

Functional Communication Training benefits those with developmental disabilities that have language problems or delays. Individuals who may benefit from FCT are not limited to children with autism. Functional communication is ideally taught early in a child’s life. Consistency is key to help increase the use of functional communication across all environments. When children functionally and independently use language to express themselves, we can provide them with items or an activity that they like to continue strengthening the use of functional communication.

Communication cup

Please reach out to your BCBA if you have any questions or concerns about working on your child’s communication system.

Durand, V. S. & Moskowitz, L. (2015). Functional communication training: thirty years of treating challenging behavior. Topics in Early Childhood Special Education, 35(2), 116-126. doi:10.1177/0271121415569509 

About: Circle City ABA is a state of the art autism center in Evansville, Indiana and Lafayette, Indiana. Specializing in applied behavior analysis (ABA) therapy for children with autism and related conditions, Circle City ABA is a destination where play meets progress. Programs are designed with each child in mind.
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