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Functional Behavior Assessments

What are functional behavior assessments (FBAs)?

Functional behavior assessments (FBAs) are a systematic process for figuring out the functions/reasons for behaviors. Behaviors can be occurring for sensory, attention, escape/avoidance, and/or access to tangibles. There can be more than one function/reason an individual engages in a behavior. These assessments consist of indirect and direct assessments, as well as a functional analysis.

Indirect assessments are indirect observations in behavior analysts gather information from the client's parents, teachers, therapists, and etc. Methods implemented during indirect assessments can include rating scales, questionnaires, and interviews. Direct assessments are direct observations of the client in their natural environment. Behavior analysts observe the client in their natural environment and record using data sheets like ABC data to learn the setting/event before the behavior and consequences provided after the behavior occurred. A functional analysis is conducted to confirm the function(s)/reason(s) for the behavior by setting up specific conditions. Here are examples behavior analysts find out confirmed function(s)/reason(s) for behaviors:

  1. Attention - An individual or client shouts out answers in the classroom, they are reinforced from their teacher by saying "Do not shout out answers!"

  2. Escape - When an individual or client screams when a worksheet is provided during their tutoring session. The tutor gives the individual or client a time-limited break from completing the worksheet by letting them escape the demand.

  3. Access to tangibles - An individual is taken to the store with their parents. They want to buy a toy, and their parents said no. An individual starts screaming and crying to get a toy.

  4. Sensory - An individual or client spins in circles and rocks back and forth because it makes them feel good.

After functional behavior assessments (FBAs) are conducted, then behavior analysts create behavior intervention plans (BIPs) that are effective for individuals/clients.

Have you heard of FBAs before? Do you understand why they are beneficial for ABA therapy sessions? Share your thoughts in the comments section!


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