Date of Defense


Date of Graduation




First Advisor

Richard Malott

Second Advisor

Kelly Kohler


Functional communication training (FCT) is a differential reinforcement procedure in which an individual is taught an alternative response that can replace problem behaviors (Tiger et al. 2008). By giving the child a way to functionally communicate with teachers, family, and other children at appropriate times and at appropriate rates will help the child in every aspect of life. Carr and Durand (1985) found that FCT can decrease problem behaviors that are maintained by positive reinfrocement (tangible). The goal of this study is to teach functional communication to a child with autism spectrum disorder who displayed problem behaviors maintained by access to preferred tangible items. In this study, the experimenters used an icon exchange communication system (ICES) to teach functional communication and to observe the effect of FCT on problem behaviors. Our result showed that after the FCT was implemented the occurrence of problem behaviors decreased. One potential drawback from FCT is that the acquired response could happen at times in the natural environment when the response cannot be reinforced, or the response may occur excessively (Campos, Leon, Sleiman & Urcuyo, 2016). For this reason, experimenters in this study also included a multiple schedule with fixed ratio and extinction components as a way to thin the schedule of reinforcement and to increase the likelihood that the functional communication skill would continue to generalize in the natural environment. Due to the limitations of time and complexity of the intervention we only were able to implement one session of phase three, FCT and multiple schedule during one session.

Access Setting

Honors Thesis-Restricted