Lag Schedules and Functional Communication Training: A Replication
Pokorski, Elizabeth A
Challenging behavior (CB) is prevalent among young children with disabilities and may stem from a reduced ability to clearly communicate their wants and needs. Functional communication training (FCT) is an evidence-based intervention used with this population to teach and reinforce appropriate communication, while placing CB on extinction. Although often effective, FCT implemented using the traditional method of continuous reinforcement for a single response can result in rote responding, reduced generalizability and persistence of target behavior, and resurgence of CB during treatment lapses. Lag schedules of reinforcement, or those that reinforce variable responding, have been successfully used to address these concerns across behaviors (e.g., verbal responding, toy play) and interventions (e.g., FCT, group contingencies). This study is a conceptual replication of Falcomata and colleagues’ (2018) single case analysis, in which an increasing lag schedule was applied within FCT to increase the variability and persistence of appropriate responding while maintaining low levels of CB during treatment. The current study replicates and extends the previous by including participants aged 3-5 and by retaining mand materials during baseline conditions. This replication provides evidence regarding the effects of the intervention (a) with young children and (b) on appropriate communication and challenging behavior during both treatment and lapses in treatment (i.e., baseline).