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The Process of Positive Behavior Support (PBS)

Step Three: Functional Behavioral Assessment

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Antecedents are the conditions that immediately precede the occurrence of the child’s behavior (Cooper, Heron, & Heward, 1987; O’Neill et al., 1997; Hieneman et al., 1999). Antecedents include the specific times of day, settings, people, and activities that either occur or are present before the child exhibits challenging behavior. For example, if a 3-year-old child is found to have repeated tantrums whenever it is time to play at the water table, the direction to play at the water table might be an antecedent to the child’s challenging behavior.


The term "behavior" refers to the child’s challenging behavior—what the child is doing (i.e., what it looks like), how often the behavior occurs, the length of the behavior’s occurrence, and the intensity of the behavior (e.g., the severity of a tantrum, the impact of the child’s striking hits another child) (O’Neill et al., 1997).


Consequences refer to the events that immediately follow the occurrence of the child’s challenging behavior. Examples of consequences include the attention paid by an adult in response to the child’s behavior, as well as the activities and objects the child either escapes or has access to as the result of the behavior.

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