International Meeting for Autism Research (London, May 15-17, 2008): Problem behaviour or a communication break down?

Problem behaviour or a communication break down?

Friday, May 16, 2008
Champagne Terrace/Bordeaux (Novotel London West)
K. J. ,. Tait , Faculty of The Professions, University of New England, Armidale, Australia
Background: This case study was conducted in Brunei Darussalam situated on the north-west of the island of Borneo with major population groupings being Malay and Chinese. Brunei Darussalam has extremely limited educational and allied health services for children with autism. Objectives: To assist a regular class teacher in a remote village to support a child’s transition from the prelinguistic to the more symbolic stages of communication development. 

Methods: The researcher evaluated teacher use of functional communication training (FCT) to replace and enhance prelinguistic behaviours in a young child with autism.  Initially, the communicative functions of the child’s prelinguistic behaviours were assessed by teacher interview. Initially, one communication function was identified for the child and an intervention goal to replace the child’s existing prelinguistic behaviours was developed in consultation with the child’s teacher and parents.  After baseline phase, the teacher received training on implementation of FCT. Intervention was designed using a simple A-B time series design. The class teacher was trained by the researcher to teach the child how to use this replacement behaviour using a positive behaviour management strategy.

Results: This study investigated the idiosyncratic behaviours of a young child with autism by combining the theoretical areas of prelinguistic communication and functional behaviour. However, this study went beyond analysing the child’s current disruptive behaviour.  It examined how one child’s regular class teacher interpreted the challenging behaviour of a seven (7) year old male child as communicative.  Further, the researcher showed how this initial information could be used to enhance the child’s communication skills by teaching a  replacement behaviour to the child, through the use of positive behaviour management. 

Conclusions: A number of implications for training teachers who work in remote villages in Brunei, and recommendations for the use of functional analysis and communication training to overcome a child’s challenging behaviour, will be discussed.

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