Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 49, Issue 12, pp 4788–4806 | Cite as

Thinning Schedules of Reinforcement Following Functional Communication Training for Children with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities: A Meta-analytic Review

  • Reem MuharibEmail author
  • Fahad Alrasheed
  • Jennifer Ninci
  • Virginia L. Walker
  • Ashley P. Voggt
Original Paper


Functional communication training (FCT) is an evidence-based practice used to mitigate challenging behavior by increasing functional communication skills. To increase the practicality and feasibility of FCT in natural settings, thinning schedules of reinforcement are typically programmed following FCT. In this review, we meta-analyzed 28 studies that incorporated a thinning schedule procedure following FCT for 51 children with intellectual and developmental disabilities ages 8 and younger. Using Tau-U, the results demonstrated overall moderate effect sizes for both challenging behavior and functional communication responses. Additionally, moderator analyses pertaining to participant characteristics, interventions, and study quality were conducted. Thinning procedures were most effective for children who had stronger communication repertoire. Implications for future research and practice are discussed.


Functional communication training Reinforcement schedule thinning Children with intellectual and developmental disabilities Meta-analysis 


Author Contributions

RM contributed to the formulation of the review questions and procedures, conducted literature searches, provided descriptive summaries of the included studies, and contributed to the writing of the manuscript. FA contributed to the formulation of the review procedures, data coding and analysis and, the writing of the manuscript. JN contributed to the formulation of the review procedures and writing of the manuscript. VLW contributed to the writing of the manuscript. APV contributed to literature searches and data coding and analysis. All authors have approved the final version of the manuscript.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflicts of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Curriculum and InstructionTexas State UniversitySan MarcosUSA
  2. 2.Center for Behavioral SciencesIrvineUSA
  3. 3.University of Hawaii at ManoaHonoluluUSA
  4. 4.University of North Carolina at CharlotteCharlotteUSA

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