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Creating Functional Behavior Assessment

written by: Sharilyn Rose • edited by: Elizabeth Wistrom • updated: 9/11/2012

Do you have a student in your classroom that exhibits a behavior that you would really like to change? Then, you may be interested in completing a functional behavior assessment on the student. Read on to learn what to do.

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    Functional Behavior Assessment

    A functional behavior assessment needs to be conducted anytime a student exhibits a behavior that interferes with the learning process, whether their own or that of others as well. It can be more simply explained as a problem-solving process for behavior. They are most often conducted on students who have behavior or conduct disorders, such as oppositional defiant disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, autism, and sometimes even students with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. The purpose of conducting this type of assessment is to find the causes of the behavior in order to reduce them to extinction. IDEA requires that these are to be conducted when the behavior becomes chronic. Let’s take a look at the steps to functional behavior assessment.

    There are three steps in conducting this type of assessment. First, you need to identify the behavior. Once the behavior has been identified, you need to figure out what the antecedents are (the causes of the behavior.) Then you need to identify the consequences, either positive or negative. This information will be gathered from all the student’s teachers usually over a two-week period. The reason it is conducted for so long is to make sure that enough information is gathered.

    Now that you know the three steps to conducting a functional behavior assessment, we can further examine the steps a little closer. Identifying the behavior is the easy part. However, finding the antecedents can be a little trickier. You need to carefully write down what happens right before the behavior. You can also think of these as behavior triggers. The purpose of this is to see why the behavior is happening. Is it to get out of doing something? Or perhaps is it just for attention? Once the triggers have been identified you can work on changing those triggers so the behavior does not happen. As you can see it is an attempt at seeing if there are any patterns to the behavior. You are trying to answer the question “why is this behavior happening?"

    As for the consequences, you need to see what is already in place. Chances are that the consequences that have already been established are not working, so you will need to come up with both positive and negative consequences.

    In order for a functional behavior assessment plan to work, every person that teaches that child in some capacity, needs to be on board. If every one does not follow it through, the plan will be unsuccessful.

    It is quite likely that you will participate in one of these at some point in your teaching career. Remember, that the main goal of this assessment is to create a positive intervention in order to reduce the problem behavior.