Association for Behavior Analysis International

The Association for Behavior Analysis International® (ABAI) is a nonprofit membership organization with the mission to contribute to the well-being of society by developing, enhancing, and supporting the growth and vitality of the science of behavior analysis through research, education, and practice.


49th Annual Convention; Denver, CO; 2023

Event Details

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Symposium #41
CE Offered: BACB
Adaptations of Functional Communication Training With Multiple Schedules
Saturday, May 27, 2023
12:00 PM–12:50 PM
Convention Center Mile High Ballroom 1C/D
Area: DDA/AUT; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Shannon Angley (Children’s Specialized Hospital Center for Autism Research, Education, and Services)
Discussant: Brian D. Greer (Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School)
CE Instructor: Brian D. Greer, Ph.D.

Functional communication training (FCT) is the most commonly used treatment for socially reinforced destructive behavior. Despite its efficacy in teaching functional communication requests (FCRs) and reducing destructive behavior, continuous reinforcement is not often feasible. Researchers have arranged multiple schedules in which two or more reinforcement schedules (continuous reinforcement; extinction) operate for FCRs, each correlated with a unique stimulus (e.g., green/red cards). This treatment, mult FCT, is effective at reducing destructive behavior, FCRs, and reinforcer deliveries. Much of mult-FCT research has involved (a) rapid alternations between reinforcement and extinction components and (b) the use of physical discriminative stimuli like index cards or poster boards. The current symposium describes adaptations of this arrangement. Kurywczak et al. evaluated the insertion of an extinction component in between two reinforcement components, as opposed to rapid schedule alternations, with four children with autism. Angley et al. assessed embedding discriminative stimuli directly into a communication device (e.g., coloring the communication icons themselves) with an adult with autism. Both mult-FCT extensions resulted in (a) a reduction in reinforcement to practical levels, (b) FCRs occurring near exclusively during the reinforcement component, and (c) suppression of destructive behavior. Dr. Brian Greer will discuss these findings and implications.

Instruction Level: Intermediate
Keyword(s): fct, multiple schedules, problem behavior, schedule thinning
Target Audience:

This symposium is ideal for BCBAs or BCBA-Ds who conduct functional communication training and are familiar with its literature. Terms such as multiple schedules and the treatment arrangement will be explained.

Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the presentation, participants will be able to: (1) accurately describe the essential components of functional communication training with multiple schedules; (2) accurately explain the procedural difference between rapid alternation of schedule components and the novel use of fading a single extinction component in between reinforcement components; and (3) accurately describe how, procedurally, behavior analysts can incorporate discriminative stimuli into augmentative and alternative communication devices.

Implementation and Thinning of Multiple Schedules Within a Demand Framework

GRACE P KURYWCZAK (Children’s Specialized Hospital Center for Autism Research, Education, and Services), Colin S. Muething (Marcus Autism Center), Jennifer M. Hodnett (University of South Florida)

Challenging behaviors can produce negative implications for individuals that engage in these behaviors. The literature suggests that functioned-based treatments are the most effective in addressing these maladaptive behaviors such as functional communication training (FCT; Carr & Durrand, 1986). The limitations with research regarding these interventions are that it requires dense rates of reinforcement that are more difficult to maintain in the natural environment leading clinicians to schedule thin using arrangements such as multiple schedules. (Fisher et al., 1998; Hagopian et al., 2011; Saini et al., 2016). Traditionally, clinicians run multiple schedules by alternating between the reinforcement (SD) and extinction (S-Delta) components for a pre-determined session length (e.g., 10 minutes). The current study evaluates the effects of a Multiple schedule using an embedded middle S-delta component with 4 participants diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Participants were exposed first to an SD interval then an S-Delta component then followed by another SD interval as opposed to the rapid alternation of SD, S-Delta components. Results across all four participants showed a significant decrease in challenging behaviors.


Incorporating Discriminative Stimuli Into an Augmentative and Alternative Communication Device During Functional Communication Training

SHANNON ANGLEY (Children’s Specialized Hospital Center for Autism Research, Education, and Services), Daniel R. Mitteer (Rutgers University (RUCARES)), Brian D. Greer (Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School), Christie Mercaldo (Children's Specialized Hospital - Rutgers University Center for Autism Research, Education, and Services), Aditi Poddar (Children's Specialized Hospital - Rutgers University Center for Autism Research, Education, and Services), Omar Elwasli (Children's Specialized Hospital - Rutgers University Center for Autism Research, Education, and Services)

Functional communication training (FCT) is a highly effective intervention for teaching communication responses and reducing destructive behavior. FCT has been used across communication modalities, from vocal-verbal behavior or to an augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) device. Bringing communication responses under discriminative control of a multiple schedule allow individuals to identify when communication responses will be reinforced while reducing reinforcement to practical levels. Although researchers have used physical discriminative stimuli in conjunction with an AAC device, no study has embedded the stimuli directly into the device where the communication icons reside. In the current study, we taught a non-vocal adult with autism and persistent communication requests to emit a variety of requests only when a reinforcement was signaled by the color of the AAC icon. We demonstrated the efficacy of this approach with two unique pairs of discriminative stimuli for tangible and edible items, thinning reinforcement for each stimulus class independently. We then rapidly transferred control to new icons and integrated both classes of stimuli into a single AAC grid. This first demonstration of embedding discriminative stimuli into an AAC device represents a promising advancement for non-vocal individuals who may not readily respond to delay or denial cues.




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