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Functional Communication Training (FCT)

What is Functional Communication Training (FCT) in ABA?

As part of an autism treatment plan, Functional Communication Training (FCT) involves teaching the most meaningful vocabulary to children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) in the most naturalistic way. For instance, instead of drilling your child with flashcards picturing objects rarely seen in his or her daily life, Functional Communication Training (FCT) teaches the words for your child’s most preferred objects in settings where he or she can have that object. Initially, the focus of functional communication training is making requests so that your child quickly learns the relationship between communicating appropriately and receiving a preferred object. Once this connection is made, your child can learn more complex language. This strategy improves motivation and generalization among children with autism. Extensive research has also shown that functional communication training is a great strategy for reducing challenging behaviors.

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

At Trumpet Behavioral Health, there are several strategies that may be implemented to achieve functional communication training goals, including:

  • 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

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