Defense Date


Graduation Date

Summer 8-8-2020


One-year Embargo

Submission Type


Degree Name



Counseling, Psychology, & Special Education


School of Education

Committee Chair

Morgan Chitiyo

Committee Member

Edward Page

Committee Member

Elizabeth McCallum


autism, functional communication training, demand fading, self-injurious behavior, resurgence


The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of functional communication training (FCT) on self-injurious behavior (SIB) of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). FCT was utilized and demand fading procedures were added to the original method. The use of FCT to address SIB maintained by negative reinforcement exhibited by children with ASD is supported by an emerging trend of behavioral research. FCT replaces SIB with a new functional communicative response (FCR) that serves the same function as SIB. However, there is a lack of evidence on how to sustain treatment gains obtained after treatment is discontinued. Thus, this study sought to investigate the effectiveness of FCT in decreasing SIB as well as find out if the results would be maintained during periods of nonreinforcement. The SIB was targeted in two different settings; self-contained classrooms and homes. In both settings, procedures involved teaching the participants appropriate alternative behavior, such as requesting breaks from tasks as a replacement of SIBs.

This study used a multiple probe across participants design to evaluate the effectiveness and maintenance of the results of FCT on decreasing SIB and increasing FCR for three participants with ASD. FCT produced significant reductions in SIB and increased rates of appropriate communicative behavior for all three participants in school settings. Furthermore, these results generalized across a new setting (i.e., home) and maintained for over two weeks following the implementation of FCT intervention. However, resurgence of SIBs occurred when extinction or a thin schedule of reinforcement were implemented for all participants.