The Effects Of Teaching Functional Communication On Appropriate And Inappropriate Responding

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An Investigation into the Effect of Teaching Functional Communication on Appropriate and Inappropriate Responding in Children with Severe Autism: an Applied Study

Challenging behaviour in children is widely thought of as a normal part of development and is thought to be linked with a lack of communication skills (Berk, 1991; Campbell, 1995; Craig- Unkefer & Kaiser, 2002; Kaiser, Hancock, Cai, Foster, & Hester, 2000; Hanley, Heal, Tiger & Ingvarsson 2007). As children physically and mentally develop, they learn communication skills which enable to them gain access to reinforcement quickly and effectively. Where children struggle to learn communication skills, they often use challenging behavior as a means of gaining reinforcement. An
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If challenging behavior is a consequence of an inability to communicate, then it would suggest that any intervention to reduce challenging behaviour would require the teaching of communication skills (Hanley et al., 2007; Vollmer et al.). One intervention that has been introduced to improve challenging behaviour through teaching communication skills is that of functional communication training (FCT) (Carr & Durand, 1985). Carr & Durand (1985) developed FCT as an intervention that teaches individuals how to request reinforcement as a

means to replace challenging behaviour. FCT teaches the individual to emit a response that gains reinforcement more efficiently and effectively than other responses (Reeve & Carr, 2000; Shukla-Mehta & Albin, 2002). Within conducting FCT, a ‘functional assessment’ of behaviour is used to identify the functions maintaining the challenging behaviour. Once a function has been ascertained, the appropriate and functionally equivalent alternative communication can be taught (e.g., if the function of a pupil kicking is to gain attention from an adult, an appropriate and functionally equivalent form of communication could be to teach the child to say ‘look at me’) (Alter, Conroy, Mancil, Haydon, 2008; Carr & Durand, 1985; Dunlap et al.; Lewis & Sugai, 1996; Vollmer et al.).

Studies have demonstrated a wide variety of functions of behaviour. Iwata,
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