Faculty Publications


Reducing behavior problems through functional communication training.

SelectedWorks Author Profiles:

V. Mark Durand

Document Type


Publication Date


Date Issued

January 1985

Date Available

April 2013




It is generally agreed that serious misbehavior in children should be replaced with socially appropriate behaviors, but few guidelines exist with respect to choosing replacement behaviors. We address this issue in two experiments. In Experiment 1, we developed an assessment method for identifying situations in which behavior problems, including aggression, tantrums, and self-injury, were most likely to occur. Results demonstrated that both low level of adult attention and high level of task difficulty were discriminative for misbehavior. In Experiment 2, the assessment data were used to select replacements for misbehavior. Specifically, children were taught to solicit attention or assistance or both verbally from adults. This treatment, which involved the differential reinforcement of functional communication, produced replicable suppression of behavior problems across four developmentally disabled children. The results were consistent with an hypothesis stating that some child behavior problems may be viewed as a nonverbal means of communication. According to this hypothesis, behavior problems and verbal communicative acts, though differing in form, may be equivalent in function. Therefore, strengthening the latter should weaken the former.


Abstract only. Full-text article is available only through licensed access provided by the publisher. Published in Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 18, 111 126. doi: 10.1901/jaba.1985.18-111. Reprinted in: Bailey, J.S., Shook, G.L., Iwata, B.A., Reid, D.H., and A.C. Repp (Eds.) (1986). Behavior analysis in developmental disabilities. Lawrence, KS: Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis. Portions reprinted in: Newsom, C., Rincover, A., & Horanitz, C., (1987) Autism. In E.J. Mash & L.G. Terdal (Eds.), Behavioral Assessment of Childhood Disorders (2nd ed). New York: Guilford. Portions reprinted in: Emerson, E. (1995). Challenging behaviour: Analysis and intervention in people with learning difficulties. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Members of the USF System may access the full-text of the article through the authenticated link provided.




Society for the Experimental Analysis of Behavior

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Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.