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Functional Communication Training (FCT)

Functional communication training (FCT) is a positive behavior support (PBS) intervention designed to reduce problem behaviors by replacing them with meaningful or functional communication, whether verbal or gestural. The emphasis of the communication is on functionality as opposed to form.


Functional communication training (FCT) emerged from the literature on functional behavioral assessment (FBA) as a systematic practice to replace inappropriate behavior or subtle communicative acts with more appropriate and effective communicative behaviors or skills. FCT is always implemented after an FBA has been conducted to identify the function of an interfering behavior. When using FCT, teachers/practitioners analyze the interfering behavior to determine what the learner is trying to communicate. For example, is the learner biting peers when she wants a toy that another child has? Or is the learner yelling in class so that he will be sent out of the room? After teachers/practitioners have identified the function of the interfering behavior, they then implement FCT to identify and teach a replacement behavior that is easy for the learner to use and serves the same purpose as the interfering behavior, but in a more appropriate way (Frazone, 2009).

FBA meets evidence-based criteria with 10 single-case design studies. According to the evidence-based studies, this intervention has been effective for toddlers (0–2 years) to young adults (19–22 years) with ASD. FBA can be used effectively to address communication, behavior, school-readiness, academic, and adaptive skills.

Brief Adapted from

Collet-Klingenberg, L. (2008). Overview of functional behavior assessment. Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin, Waisman Center, The National Professional Development Center on Autism Spectrum Disorders.

Fettig, A. (2013). Functional behavior assessment (FBA) fact sheet. Chapel Hill, NC: The University of North Carolina, Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute, The National Professional Development Center on Autism Spectrum Disorders.

Research Summary

Ages (yrs) Skills Settings Outcome
0-22 years Communication, behavior, school readiness, academic, adaptive Home, school, community
*The information found in the Research Summary table is updated yearly following a literature review of new research and this age range reflects information from this review

Outcomes:     Evidence-based     Emerging     No evidence     Comprehensive

Steps for Implementation


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