Journal of Behavioral Education

, Volume 29, Issue 1, pp 42–63 | Cite as

Functional Communication Training for Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder: A Systematic Review and Quality Appraisal

  • Emily GregoriEmail author
  • Oliver Wendt
  • Stephanie Gerow
  • Corey Peltier
  • Derya Genc-Tosun
  • Catharine Lory
  • Zachary S. Gold
Original Paper


Functional communication training (FCT) is one of the most common treatments for challenging behavior and is considered an empirically supported practice for children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). However, no previous systematic review has evaluated the quality of FCT for adults with ASD, and the empirical support for this practice among adults is unknown. The purpose of the current review was to synthesize the extant research, including a quality appraisal of the literature on the use of FCT to treat challenging behavior for adults with ASD. We identified 20 studies that evaluated the efficacy of FCT in reducing challenging behavior for adults with ASD. The quality of each article was evaluated based on the What Works Clearinghouse design and evidence standards. Following the quality and evidence evaluations, eight studies, including eight experiments, were found to have moderate or strong evidence of effectiveness. The current body of literature provides some evidence for the efficacy of FCT in reducing challenging behavior for adults with ASD, but additional research in this area is warranted.


Autism Adults Challenging behavior Functional communication training Differential reinforcement 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Human and Animal Rights

This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Emily Gregori
    • 1
    Email author
  • Oliver Wendt
    • 2
  • Stephanie Gerow
    • 3
  • Corey Peltier
    • 4
  • Derya Genc-Tosun
    • 5
  • Catharine Lory
    • 1
  • Zachary S. Gold
    • 6
  1. 1.College of EducationPurdue UniversityWest LafayetteUSA
  2. 2.College of Health and Human SciencesPurdue UniversityWest LafayetteUSA
  3. 3.College of EducationBaylor UniversityWacoUSA
  4. 4.College of EducationUniversity of OklahomaNormanUSA
  5. 5.Eskisehir Osmangazi UniversityOdunpazarıTurkey
  6. 6.Condcordia UniversityMontrealCanada

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