There are multiple potential difficulties in implementing an intervention that aims to resolve or even alleviate one of the major symptoms of autistic spectrum disorder. It is vital to consider all the available theoretical data and connect it with the benefits of practical application to determine the chances of success. This essay analyzes the proposed plan of intervention and revises several of its points based on the evidence presented in peer-reviewed articles.
The targeted outcome of this intervention is to prevent the student from locking down during his ritual due to its interruption. Moreover, the student is expected to be less anxious to begin conversations with others. The results of this plan can be traced to the decrease in anxiety during communication and fewer incidents where the student shuts off. However, the observation shows that these outcomes are a response to positive reinforcement instead of self-controlled behavioral changes. It is also worth noting that gamification of treatment was encountered with profound interest from the student. While there were initial doubts regarding the usage of a head-mounted device due to the unwillingness of the student, the overall experience was positive.
The implementation of such a plan requires a significant amount of personal communication that establishes a connection between a professional and a student. However, this connection also made it less possible to observe the application of desired behavior in real-life situations. There was a need to change the routine to ensure that the student is able to acclimatize to different conditions and stress factors. Otherwise, the intervention had a positive impact on the student’s social adaptation and the severity of their response to adverse interactions, such as disruptions of his ritual.
There are several alterations that I would like to perform within the plan. Initial observation provides a satisfactory conclusion of the behavior of a student. However, it simultaneously makes a student more predisposed to exhibit the undesired behavior less during the interactions, making it more difficult to track the progress. Moreover, reward-based positive reinforcement was eventually made redundant, yet the sudden removal of a stimulus could have brought unexpected regress in behavioral changes.
It is possible to add several new steps to the FCT plan in order to strengthen it and ensure its success. Stages that outline the current intervention miss out on some theoretical suggestions. First of all, it is beneficial for a professional who uses material rewards as a method of reinforcement of the selected behavior to create a lag schedule that will gradually increase the time between awarding the desired outcome. Therefore, a new step will include treatment that is similar in style yet has diminishing rewards.
Moreover, the method of support must take into account the progress that is made throughout the intervention. For example, the initial setting for treatment was proposed to be inside a virtual reality that can be stopped at any time. As the student progresses through the treatment, it is crucial to make the setting in which he attempts to utilize the skills gained during past treatment sessions (Carter et al., 2019). Another point of treatment that can be addressed in revision is self-motivated communication training. As the intervention uses virtual reality as one of the tools, the controlled environment in which a simulation is shown to the student can be accessed at home.
After these considerations, the revised FCT plan must include the following steps:
- Reduction of anxiety via Coping Cat program.
- Adjustment of behavior via the virtual reality environment where theoretical situations will be analyzed in detail.
- The initial introduction of the student to real-life interactions in a controllable environment.
- The gradual transition from the controllable environment to regular classes.
- Eventual reduction and elimination of material rewards as a method of positive reinforcement.
In order to ensure the success of the intervention, the plan must accommodate all the potential mishaps. There are many possible obstacles to the issue outside of the unwillingness of a student to participate. They include the lack of attention during treatment, unsatisfactory skill retention, and the refusal to apply the gained skills in real-life situations. To address these issues, there is a need to refer to scholarly articles on these topics.
Skill retention is a crucial part of an FCT intervention. However, the initial plan did not correctly identify the ways to incorporate this part of the intervention into the project. There are methods calculated by scholars with the intention to assess the most optimal period of lags that will ensure maximum retention. The study by Falcomata et al. (2017) reveals “strong evidence that combining FCT with lag schedules efficiently prevented the resurgence of problem behavior” (p. 15). The article shows that thinning schedules between interventions has a positive effect on treatment outcomes by promoting autonomous behavior (Falcomata et al., 2017). This method will also be beneficial in the removal of rewards associated with proper conduct. The sudden removal of reinforcement may be taken as a mark that such behavior is inappropriate (Gerow et al., 2018). Lag schedules can be used in conjunction with the chosen method of positive reinforcement to achieve the eventual elimination of rewards.
It is vital to address the issues in regular communication directly in order to resolve the problem with the skill application. Regular classes tend to include a significant amount of stressful situations for a student with ASD that serve as a barrier to any memory of behavior treatment (Carter et al., 2019). In the presented case, this issue may appear to be less prominent, as the student is able to communicate with others since there is a relatively small obstacle. However, there is a chance of a failure to communicate in situations when the student’s ritual is interrupted, implying it might be necessary to take measured steps in the amount of pressure on the student. To achieve this effect, the authors propose a controlled class placement and adjustment where a student will receive “survival skills” (Carter et al., 2019). This can be done via temporarily increased moderation of a student’s interactions as well.
In conclusion, there are several factors that could have been taken into consideration during the initial plan, and there was a need to revise it. There are studies that imply the necessity to rework several parts of the intervention, including behavior retention and willingness to apply the knowledge in real-life situations. The revised plan allows a professional to put an emphasis on skill retention and ensures that a student will be able to exhibit the promoted behavior in appropriate situations. Moreover, it teaches the student how to avoid getting anxious during conversations. While it is possible to make additional modifications to the FCT plan, they are dependent on a personality of a child.
Carter, M., Stephenson, J., Clark, T., Costley, D., Martin, J., Williams, K., Bruck, S., Davies, L., Browne, L., & Sweller, N. (2019). A comparison of two models of support for students with autism spectrum disorder in school and predictors of school success. Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders, 68, 101452.
Falcomata, T. S., Muething, C. S., Silbaugh, B. C., Adami, S., Hoffman, K., Shpall, C., & Ringdahl, J. E. (2017). Lag schedules and functional communication training: Persistence of Mands and relapse of problem behavior. Behavior Modification, 42(3), 314-334.
Gerow, S., Davis, T., Radhakrishnan, S., Gregori, E., & Rivera, G. (2018). Functional communication training: The strength of evidence across disabilities. Exceptional Children, 85(1), 86-103.