A Meta-analytic Review of Functional Communication Training Across Mode of Communication, Age, and Disability Academic Article uri icon


  • 2015, Springer Science+Business Media New York. Deficits in communication in people with disabilities are a major cause of challenging behaviors. Functional communication training (FCT) is one treatment developed to address both challenging behavior and instruction in replacement communicative behaviors by determining the function, or reason, the behavior occurs and developing a communication intervention to address that function. This meta-analysis included 36 single-case studies that evaluated the impact of functional communication training on challenging behaviors in people with disabilities. Effects were measured using the Robust IRD effect size. Findings indicate that functional communication training has strong effects overall. Regarding communication mode, results were greater for speech (verbal) than aided augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) and greater for aided AAC than unaided AAC. Further, primary-aged participants had stronger effects than elementary-aged children and elementary had better effects than adults. Secondary students also had better effects than adults, though effects for secondary-aged participants were not significantly different than those for primary or elementary ages. Finally, FCT was more effective with participants with autism than intellectual disabilities.

published proceedings


altmetric score

  • 3.35

author list (cited authors)

  • Heath, A. K., Ganz, J. B., Parker, R., Burke, M., & Ninci, J.

citation count

  • 42

complete list of authors

  • Heath, Amy K||Ganz, Jennifer B||Parker, Richard||Burke, Mack||Ninci, Jennifer

publication date

  • June 2015