Evaluation of multiple schedules with naturally occurring and therapist-arranged discriminative stimuli following functional communication training

Kenneth D. Shamlian, Wayne W. Fisher, Mark W. Steege, Brenna M. Cavanaugh, Kristina Samour, Angie C. Querim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

7 Scopus citations


Many studies have shown that (a) functional communication training (FCT) is effective for reducing problem behavior, and (b) multiple schedules can facilitate reinforcer schedule thinning during FCT. Most studies tha have used multiple schedules with FCT have included therapist-arranged stimuli (e.g., colored cards) as the discriminative stimuli (SDs), but recently, researchers have evaluated similar multiple-schedule training procedures with naturally occurring SDs (e.g., overt therapist behavior). The purposes of the current study were to compare the effects of arranged and naturally occurring SDs directly during (a) acquisition of discriminated functional communication responses (FCRs) and (b) generalization of discriminated FCRs when we introduced the multiple schedules in novel contexts in which the naturally occurring stimuli were either relatively easy or difficult to discriminate. Results showed that (a) 2 of 3 participants acquired discriminated responding of the FCR more rapidly with arranged than with naturally occurring stimuli, (b) 2 of 3 participants showed resurgence of problem behavior, and (c) 2 of 3 participants showed greater generalization of discriminated responding to novel contexts with arranged stimuli than with naturally occurring stimuli. We discuss these results relative to the conditions under which naturally occurring and arranged SDs may promote rapid and generalized treatment gains.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)228-250
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of applied behavior analysis
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 1 2016



  • discriminative stimuli
  • functional communication training
  • generalization
  • multiple schedules
  • resurgence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Philosophy
  • Applied Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science

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