Functional Behavior Assessments

     Last time on the blog we discussed the four functions of behavior.  These answers to why a behavior occurs consisted of access to sensory input, to escape or avoid something, to gain social attention, and to gain access to a tangible item or activity.  Today we will discuss the process of identifying these functions through Functional Behavior Assessments (FBA).
     An FBA encompasses many different methods that aid in identifying why a behavior is occurring.  The goal of an FBA is to reveal the function of a problem behavior so that an intervention or plan can be put in place to reduce this behavior.  The three functional assessment methods are direct observation, indirect methods, and functional analysis.
     Direct observation is when an observer watches a client in their natural environment.  When the targeted behavior occurs the observer takes note of what happened right before the problem behavior (the antecedent) and what happens right after the problem behavior (the consequence).
     With indirect methods the client, the parents or instructors of the client fill out questionnaires and are involved in interviews that discuss the target behavior as well as what happens before and after the problem behavior.
     A functional analysis is a little different than the first two methods because instead of creating a hypothesis, it is used to test a hypothesis.  In this method, the instructor would change what happens before and after the target behavior in an effort to figure out what is causing the behavior.
     These three assessment methods make up an FBA and help identify the functions of a behavior in order to effectively come up with a plan to reduce the behavior.  Without conducting behavior assessments, it’s all a guessing game and could potentially make the behavior worse or have no effect at all.

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