Communicative Function of Behavior


Behavioral issues in children and adolescents preventing them from successful socialization frequently derive from their inability to communicate their current needs. The cases of Michael and Cathy are no exception to the rule, and they can be viewed through the lens of their failure to interact with peers and parents. This approach seems beneficial for considering the circumstances of the matter as well as developing proper interventions to eliminate the risks stemming from the students’ inappropriate conduct. Therefore, the problems of Michael and Cathy can be examined with regard to social settings and the implied difficulties in communication for suggesting interventions, and consultations with an ASD specialist will help efficiently implement them.

Problematic Behaviors and Social Settings

In the situation of Michael, the principal task is to reveal the purpose of grabbing food and other items from parents, classmates, and other people. As follows from the scenario, these events happen when he struggles to explain something, and the improper actions can be viewed as a way of attracting attention to his needs, which he cannot express. Regardless of the place where the problem occurs, the similarity of these episodes is evident. Thus, for example, in restaurants, the boy attempts to steal food from strangers, and this conduct can be considered as an adverse reaction to the environment. In the home setting, these occasions can also be attributed to the failure to communicate with his parents and siblings to get what he wants. At school, the above considerations are complemented by the restrictions applicable to the learning process, which means the impossibility of moving all the time. These behaviors can be problematic in the specified social settings because they distract others from satisfying their needs and leave no chances for acceptance in society.

The issues of Cathy are also connected to her challenges in communication, and they prevent the girl from accessing different services. Thus, the struggle to find a classroom or take the bus home becomes an obstacle, which she cannot overcome due to her unwillingness to accept physical assistance. In addition, the problem of readjusting to changes in schedule or routines worsens the situation since they not only require a certain degree of flexibility, which the student does not possess but also imply communication. In contrast to Michael’s case, Cathy’s behaviors are mainly manifested in the school setting, which limits the area of measures, which should be developed for her aid. The introduction of suitable interventions is critical for preventing inappropriate actions because they can be problematic as they distract other students from the learning process.

Interventions and Communication Devices/Tools

The interventions for both students include the introduction of communication devices or tools allowing to resolve the emerged issues. Thus, for Michael, they will be the use of technological solutions intended for teaching “communication, social behavior, and academic skills” (Heng et al., 2020, p. 254). Their adoption will help explain the ways of expressing his needs when in a difficult situation (Heng et al., 2020). These measures will be temporary since his main problem is the lack of methods of coping with challenges, which can be easily addressed. In other words, the only task is to develop Michael’s skills, which will contribute to the modification of the demonstrated behaviors. The rationale for this course of action is connected to the absence of other issues preventing him from successful socialization and efficient communication with peers, parents, and strangers in public places.

In turn, the problems of Cathy seem more complex and, therefore, might require long-term interventions. In this case, the student can benefit from the adoption of new technological solutions, which are elaborated for promoting self-care skills (Lima AntĂŁo et al., 2018). Their feasibility for the girl is conditional upon the fact that all of the issues which she faces when at school are connected to her inability to exercise them for getting access to different services. More specifically, Cathy can start using high-tech devices for expressing her needs, and auditory communication tools will be an excellent complement to the already used visual techniques (pictures) (Lima AntĂŁo et al., 2018). The tablets with voice output will allow her to navigate her way in any setting in which the above challenges can be encountered (Lima AntĂŁo et al., 2018). As a result, she will also be able to clearly explain her concerns when changes are introduced.

Consultation with an ASD Specialist and Recommendations

The process of implementing the suggested changes in Michael’s communication with teachers and other students will require the assistance of an ASD specialist. Their consultation with the school employees working with the boy as well as his parents will be based on Michael’s needs, which can be adequately addressed only if the environment is ASD-friendly (Anglim et al., 2018). In other words, the proposed measures should be introduced in such a form so that the boy does not perceive them as some other restrictions (Anglim et al., 2018). From this perspective, the task for an ASD specialist is to explain to the teachers the way of developing the lacking skills positively, and it should be complemented by the work with parents. The latter step will be essential for increasing the efficiency of Michael’s communication since the implemented methods should be supported in the home setting.

The consultation with Cathy’s teachers and other employees from her school will be connected to the necessity to ensure continuity of efforts. The acquisition of social-emotional skills, which are the target of the elaborated interventions, should occur not only in the classroom but also in other settings (Beaumont et al., 2019). Therefore, an ASD specialist should emphasize the importance of supporting the girl using the new devices with voice output at school outside of the classroom and at home (Beaumont et al., 2019). This recommendation will require the involvement of parents as well, and they should actively participate in the process of developing Cathy’s skills. Even if the use of visual aids is sufficient for some purposes, the girl should also learn to rely on her tablet. Therefore, its adoption will be efficient if the people with whom she interacts prefer this mode of communication.


In conclusion, the problems of Michael and Cathy can be resolved with the use of the suggested methods. The former’s habit of grabbing others’ items is a manifestation of his failure to communicate his needs. It can be addressed through the introduction of technological solutions developing the appropriate patterns of social behavior. In turn, the latter’s refusal to interact with people when it cannot be avoided can be changed with the help of auditory communication tools. They are optimal for navigating the school and other places and can be a complement to the visual aids. In both situations, the involvement of an ASD specialist seems necessary because they should explain the importance of an ASD-friendly environment and continuity of efforts in short-term and long-term methods suggested for the students.


Anglim, J., Prendeville, P., & Kinsella, W. (2018). The self-efficacy of primary teachers in supporting the inclusion of children with autism spectrum disorder. Educational Psychology in Practice, 34(1), 73-88. Web.

Beaumont, R. B., Smith-Merry, J., Costley, D., Howlin, P., Sofronoff, K., Roberts, J., Taffe, J. R., Gray, K. M., Clarke, K. S., Clark, T. H., Hodge, M. A., Horstead, S. K., & Einfeld, S. L. (2019). Implementation, evaluation and maintenance of a social-emotional skills training program for children with an autism spectrum disorder in a specialist school setting. International Journal of Special Education, 34(1), 95-108. Web.

Heng, E., Lanovaz, M. J., & Beauregard, A. (2020). Research on technological interventions for young children with autism spectrum disorders: A scoping review. Review Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 8, 253–263. Web.

Lima Antão, J. Y. F. D., Oliveira, A. S. B., Almeida Barbosa, R. T. D., Crocetta, T. B., Guarnieri, R., Arab, C., Massetti, T., Antunes, T. P. C., da Silva, A. P., Bezerra, I. M. P., de Mello Monteiro, C. B., & Abreu, L. C. D. (2018). Instruments for augmentative and alternative communication for children with autism spectrum disorder: A systematic review. Clinics, 73.Web. 

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PsychologyWriting. "Communicative Function of Behavior." September 6, 2023.