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The Process of Positive Behavior Support (PBS)

Step Three: Functional Behavioral Assessment

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Functional behavioral assessment (FBA) is a process used to develop an understanding of a child’s challenging behavior (Carr et al., 1994; O’Neill et al., 1997; Hieneman et al., 1999). The goal of functional behavioral assessment is to identify the function of the child’s behavior—the reason or purpose why a child behaves as he/she does in specific situations. The process involves collecting information through the use of direct observations, interviews, record reviews(e.g., school and/or medical records, lesson plans, individualized education plans), and behavior rating scales. This information is used to understand patterns of the child’s challenging behavior—the ecological events or conditions that increase the likelihood of challenging behavior (i.e., setting events), what happens before the behavior occurs (i.e., triggers or antecedents), what the behavior looks like (i.e., the behavior), and what happens after the challenging behavior occurs (i.e., consequences). Once collected, the information is analyzed to determine the specific function or purpose of the challenging behavior—whether it occurs in order for the child to obtain something (e.g., attention, object, activity) or to escape something (e.g., demands, activities, social interactions) (Carr et al., 1994; O’Neill et al., 1997). The process is complete when there is enough information that will lead to the development of hypotheses or summary statements (Hieneman et al., 1999) that represent the behavior support team’s best guess or prediction as to what conditions reliably predict the occurrence of the child’s challenging behavior.

Click on the arrows in the yellow navigation bars to be taken through the process step by step.

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