Applications of Verbal Behavior

Functional Communication Training

Functional communication is considered as a positive action that is designed to support the understanding of behavior and lower problem behaviors through the use of verbal actions such as gestures.  (Gerow et al., 2018). Therefore, rather than students showing upsetting actions when they are upset about not meeting their wants, they converse in a more generally suitable manner by alternative communications such as pointing or gestures. Functional communication training (FCT) focuses on a precise understanding of the meaning behind the action.

FCT is relied on to switch the interfering actions and communicative approaches with more conventional communicative methods such as picture exchange, verbalization, and pointing (Gerow et al., 2018). Therefore, FCT is a differential support approach through which a person is trained to have an alternative approach for a response that leads to reinforcement to understand the behavior through recognizable communication.

Elementary operants

Verbal behavior consists of different elementary operants. The elementary operants are the foundation in developing communication (Fienup, 2018). Therefore, functional communication training will rely on tact. Tact is seen as a verbal operant that is controlled through non-verbal actions. This is used in naming events, objects, and actions that the speaker has direct contact through senses. This is effective in functional communication training since it’s under functional control and differentiated reinforcement.

Behavior analysis

Verbal behavior is part of the Applied Behavior Analysis, which teaches people to label items and link things and words with their purposes or responses (Ardoin, Wagner and Bangs, 2016). However, behavior analysis of children with disabilities can be without verbal behavior analysis, where other techniques are used to analyze the behavior of an individual. These include positive and negative reinforcement, task analysis, and prompt. These techniques are also effective in learning behavior problems and identifying why a behavior is occurring among children with disabilities.




Ardoin, S. P., Wagner, L., & Bangs, K. E. (2016). Applied behavior analysis: A foundation for response to intervention. In Handbook of response to intervention (pp. 29-42). Springer, Boston, MA.

Fienup, D. M. (2018). The future of verbal behavior: integration.

Gerow, S., Davis, T., Radhakrishnan, S., Gregori, E., & Rivera, G. (2018). Functional communication training: The strength of evidence across disabilities. Exceptional Children85(1), 86-103.

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