Teaching Delayed Gratification: Reducing Temper Tantrums of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders after Functional Communication Training
University of Kansas
Psychology & Research in Education
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This study examined the extent to which using functional communication training (FCT) in a delayed gratification context reduced temper tantrums in children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Three children with ASD whose mean age was 3 and a half year old participated in the study. In the first phase, a functional behavioral assessment (FBA) was conducted to identify the functions of the participants' temper tantrums. Then, a stimulus preference assessment was utilized to determine the appropriate reinforcers to be used in each treatment session. Next, a multiple baseline across participants design was used to reduce temper tantrums and increase the use of appropriate communication behaviors, i.e., FCT. Once FCT was taught, delayed gratification interventions were implemented by manipulating three conditions: (a) a fixed time delay (FD), (b) a progressive time delay with verbal praises (PDVP), and (c) a progressive time delay with visual cues (PDVC). A multiple baseline, multi-element design across participants was used to compare the three conditions and determine which was the most effective in teaching delayed gratification. The behavioral changes in participants' temper tantrums, use of alternative communicative behaviors taught by FCT, and the ability to wait were measured through direct observations by two independent observers. The results showed that the progressive time delay with visual cues (PDVC) was the most effective intervention that promoted the participants' ability to wait and decreased their temper tantrums. Based on the evaluation of the findings, implications and future research directions are discussed.
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