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Functional Communication Training

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therapist and child sit in chairs and discuss functional communication trainingFunctional communication training, or FCT, is a style of treatment that breaks down words and phrases into small problems and solutions. It’s an intuitive, different way of looking at the language that tends to click with many individuals with autism spectrum disorder or other communicative developmental disorders. FCT succeeds in teaching children and adolescents with ASD new, effective ways of communication.

FCT is a key component of ABA treatment and, as a result, is incorporated into nearly all ABA programs. FCT falls into a type of ABA therapy called positive behavior support, which encourages individuals to respond with socially acceptable behavior and minimizes extreme or explosive responses. At Rising Above ABA, functional communication training is part of our comprehensive plan for ABA therapy in Newton, MA. If you’re looking for local options for ABA therapy for your child, reach out today by calling 888.572.7473 or by contacting us online.

What Is Functional Communication Training?

The way most non-ASD individuals learned communicative standards may not even be one that most people can recall. For many, learning what was appropriate to say and what was not involved trial-and-error, speaking out of turn, or responding in a way that may have had a euphemistic meaning. However, for some individuals with ASD, it takes more than a few rebuttals and negative responses to solidify how to communicate in a socially acceptable manner. ASD can cause communication to be parsed in a different way than is traditionally expected, and as a result, can cause a slowed or staggered understanding of social situations.

Functional communication training works by breaking down these interactions into a simple process:

  • Assess behavior
  • Discern potential problems
  • Teach new communication skill
  • Reinforce appropriate behavior when the skill is implemented properly
  • Ignore difficult behavior

By using this method and applying time and persistence, children have an easier time learning how to communicate in a mutually understood and socially acceptable manner.

Functional Communication Training for Autism

FCT works in a number of situations but is routinely used for individuals with autism spectrum disorder. Children with ASD may prefer nonverbal means of conversation, usually in the form of mands (requests). For instance, if a child learns that negative behavior, such as throwing a tantrum, results in receiving a palliative item (food, toy), they may be inclined to continue doing so.

This behavior is addressed rather well by FCT, which starts by assessing what the behavioral landscape is, followed by the problem. Next, an ABA practitioner will start by introducing different means of communication to the child, whether that is by use of signage, formal requests, or other means. By learning and incorporating these new ways of requesting and ignoring the previously successful, detrimental methods, children are guided toward navigating situations in more positive ways.

FCT also requires at-home practice. Parents of children with ASD are encouraged to practice the same routine of introducing alternative routes for asking and receiving, as well as ignoring negative routes. This takes time and can be difficult. The results are generally those of developing social skills and a reduction of negative behaviors.

Rising Above ABA Provides Functional Communication Training in Newton, MA

At Rising Above ABA, functional communication training is just one part of the wider ABA therapy approach. Other services within the scope of ABA include social skills groups, where children and adolescents are encouraged to develop their social skills together. We offer a social safety net in which families and community programs are connected to help parents implement ABA therapy at home.

If you’re curious about how FCT is able to foster positive behaviors in your child or about ABA therapy in Newton, MA, call us at 888.572.7473 or contact us online. Our team is ready to answer any questions and address all concerns.