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Functional Communication Training (FCT)

What is Functional Communication Training (FCT) in ABA Therapy?

We express our most basic desires, like our needs, wants, feelings, and preferences daily using Functional Communication Skills. Children with autism can have trouble communicating and may express themselves through challenging behavior. Or, if they’re unable to express themselves, they may experience a communication breakdown. The result? Frustration for your child and the people who care about them most. But, Functional Communication Training can help!

Functional Communication Training For Children With Autism

We know that all behavior is a form of communication. However, Functional Communication Training(FCT) aims to replace problem behavior with more common forms of communication. Although our final goal is to help your child speak, we at Trumpet Behavioral Health recognize several important steps to get them there. For example, if your child takes items out of others’ hands to indicate they want something, BCBA professionals may work to replace that behavior with a different form of non-verbal communication, such as pointing.

Goals for Functional Communication Training

Common functional communication training examples can include the use of picture exchanges, icon exchanges, gestures and sign language. It is important to note that communication therapy does not mean that your child is talking. Rather, any kind of communication may be acceptable.  

Trumpet’s Board Certified Behavior Analysts (BCBA) will work closely with your child’s autism behavioral therapist and other members of the treatment team to determine what type of functional communication goals are most likely to have the largest, most positive impact in the shortest amount of time. While the goal is to encourage your child to talk, there may be several steps to teaching this skill.

READ MORE: Types of Functional Communication Assessments

Teaching Strategies to Reduce Problem Behaviors in Children with Autism

At Trumpet Behavioral Health, there are several strategies that may be implemented to achieve functional communication training goals. Some example of this include:

  • Natural Environment Training
  • Verbal Behavior
  • Discrete Trial Training
  • Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS) Protocol
  • American Sign Language or Sign Exact English
  • Modeling
  • Differential Reinforcement
  • Contriving Motivating Operations
  • Errorless Learning

These are just a few forms of communication that may be used to help your child grow their skills. As part of your child’s autism treatment plan, our BCBA Professionals will determine what kinds of communication training will make the greatest impact in the shortest amount of time.

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