Contextualized Behavioral Support in Early Intervention for Children with Autism and Their Families

Abstract

Parent education programs have become an effective mode of treatment delivery for teaching families effective behavioral strategies to manage challenging behavior in young children with autism. Functional assessment and functional communication training (FCT) are empirically validated procedures that have recently been introduced into parent education programming to help resolve challenging behaviors. The success of these procedures, however, is contingent on family members' ability to integrate them into the specific contexts in which challenging behaviors occur. Consequently, the application of these procedures in home settings necessitates consideration of the family context in the assessment and treatment planning process. A study is presented that investigated the use of information on family context (i.e., caregiving demands, family support, patterns of social interaction) to direct the assessment and intervention planning process. More specifically, information on family context was used to individualize behavioral support plans designed to support family use of functional communication training within important family routines. Through parent-investigator collaboration we individualized the manner in which functional communication training procedures were taught and implemented so they were contextually relevant. Utilizing a multiple baseline design, the challenging behaviors and functional communication of three children with autism were monitored across baseline, intervention (i.e., FCT, and contextulized FCT), and follow-up phases. Multiple routines for each participant were selected and monitored across all phases to evaluate changes in the dependent measures within training and generalization routines. A self-report questionnaire was administered intermittently to parents to determine if consideration of family context improved the “goodness of fit” of the functional communication training treatment packages across FCT and contextualized FCT intervention phases. Results from the study indicate that consideration of family context in the assessment and intervention planning process does not jeopardize and may contribute to the stability and durability of reductions in challenging behavior achieved with functional assessment and functional communication training procedures.

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Moes, D.R., Frea, W.D. Contextualized Behavioral Support in Early Intervention for Children with Autism and Their Families. J Autism Dev Disord 32, 519–533 (2002). https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1021298729297

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  • Behavioral assessment
  • ecocultural assessment
  • early intervention
  • functional communication