Communication is a fundamental human need and a skill that is central to navigating daily life and forming meaningful connections. For children with autism, however, communication can often be a significant challenge. Functional Communication Training (FCT) in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy is designed to address this critical issue by teaching children with autism effective communication strategies that can be used to express their needs, desires and emotions. By focusing on the development of functional communication skills, ABA therapy helps children overcome communication barriers, fostering improved relationships and success in everyday life.

In this article, we will explore the role and importance of Functional Communication Training in ABA therapy for children with autism. We will discuss the principles of FCT, the various evidence-based strategies employed, and the benefits of incorporating FCT into ABA therapy programs. Finally, we will touch on the approach taken by Strive ABA Consultants to implement FCT in our comprehensive therapy programs, showcasing our commitment to help children with autism develop the communication skills necessary to succeed.

Through our dedication to promoting effective communication, Strive ABA Consultants seeks to empower children with autism to break through barriers, enhancing their quality of life and nurturing their potential for success. Learn how our comprehensive approach to FCT and ABA therapy can unlock your child’s communication abilities by contacting Strive ABA Consultants and begin transforming your child’s communication challenges into opportunities for growth and connection.

Understanding Functional Communication Training

Functional Communication Training (FCT) is a widely used and evidence-based component of ABA therapy that focuses on teaching children with autism appropriate communication strategies. FCT is designed to replace problem behaviors that may have arisen as a result of communication difficulties, with more adaptive and socially acceptable forms of communication. This approach emphasizes the importance of equipping children with the necessary skills to express their needs and feelings effectively, leading to improved interactions and relationships with others.

Core Principles of Functional Communication Training

At the heart of Functional Communication Training are several key principles that guide its implementation and success. These principles include:

  1. Identifying Communication Functions: The first step in FCT is to identify the specific function(s) that a child’s problem behaviors serve. This may include gaining attention, expressing wants or needs, or escaping or avoiding undesirable situations. By understanding the underlying reasons for these behaviors, therapists can effectively target communication skills that address the child’s primary needs.
  1. Reinforcing Functional Communication: In FCT, therapists work to teach and reinforce adaptive communication strategies that fulfill the same purpose as the child’s problem behaviors, providing a more socially acceptable means of expressing needs and preferences.
  1. Generalization: FCT focuses on ensuring that children can effectively use their newly learned communication skills across various settings, situations, and individuals. This focus on generalization helps to ensure that children can successfully navigate a range of social and environmental contexts using their new communication strategies.

Strategies Employed in Functional Communication Training

Several evidence-based strategies are commonly employed in Functional Communication Training to support the development of adaptive communication skills. These strategies include:

  1. Prompting: Therapists use various prompting techniques, such as verbal, gestural, or physical prompts, to encourage and support the use of functional communication skills.
  1. Shaping: Shaping involves gradually modifying a child’s communication attempts to approximate the desired communication behavior. This is achieved by providing reinforcement for successive approximations of the targeted skill.
  1. Differential Reinforcement: In FCT, differential reinforcement is used to selectively reinforce functional communication while withholding reinforcement for problem behaviors. This approach helps to establish clear contingencies between adaptive communication and desired outcomes.
  1. Social Stories: Social Stories are short narratives that help children with autism understand social situations and the expected communication behaviors within those situations. They can be used in conjunction with FCT to improve communication skills in specific social contexts.

Incorporating Functional Communication Training at Strive ABA Consultants

At Strive ABA Consultants, we are committed to helping children with autism develop functional communication skills through the implementation of evidence-based FCT techniques. Our approach to FCT includes:

  1. Comprehensive Communication Assessment: Our therapists conduct a thorough assessment of each child’s communication abilities, including their current communication skills, preferred methods of communication, and any problem behaviors that may be serving a communicative function.
  1. Individualized FCT Planning: Following the assessment, our therapists create an individualized FCT plan that identifies the specific communication skills to be targeted and the appropriate evidence-based strategies to be employed.
  1. Collaborative Implementation: FCT requires the active involvement of caregivers, family members, and other professionals involved in the child’s care. Strive ABA Consultants collaborates with these individuals to ensure consistent implementation of FCT strategies across all settings.
  1. Continuous Monitoring and Adjustment: Our therapists continually monitor each child’s progress in FCT and adjust the intervention as needed based on data-driven decision-making.

Benefits of Functional Communication Training in ABA Therapy

Incorporating FCT into ABA therapy can provide numerous benefits for children with autism, including:

  1. Improved Communication Skills: FCT supports the development of effective communication strategies, empowering children with autism to better express their needs, wants, and emotions.
  1. Reduction of Problem Behaviors: By teaching adaptive communication skills that replace problem behaviors, FCT can lead to a significant reduction in such behaviors, enhancing overall social functioning and acceptance.
  1. Enhanced Relationship Building: Improved communication skills foster improved interactions and relationships with family members, peers, and the community at large.
  1. Increased Independence: As children with autism become more effective communicators, they gain greater autonomy and independence in their daily lives and activities.


Functional Communication Training is a vital component of ABA therapy for children with autism, focusing on the development of effective communication strategies to replace problem behaviors and promote success in daily life. Strive ABA Consultants is proud to prioritize FCT in our comprehensive treatment programs, ensuring that each child has the tools they need to overcome communication barriers and reach their full potential.

With a commitment to promoting functional communication, Strive ABA Consultants seeks to empower children with autism to lead fulfilling lives marked by meaningful connections and personal growth. To learn more about our Functional Communication Training approach and how we can help your child succeed, contact Strive ABA Consultants and begin your child’s journey to communication success today.