Functional Behaviour Assessment

What is a functional behaviour Assessment?

An assessment that determines what function or purpose a specific behaviour is serving the person. The goal of a functional behaviour assessment is to create a treatment package based on the function that the behaviour is serving.  

 What are the steps in a functional behaviour assessment?

  1. Define the behaviour: determine what is the behaviour that is the focus for the intervention.

  2. Data Collection: choose most appropriate tools and begin data collection

    1. Indirect data collection: discussion and gathering information about the child from parents and caregivers.

    2. Direct data collection: direct interaction and observation of the child

  3.   Analyze data / Determine function: once enough data is collected the hypothesized function will be determined

  4.  Treatment Plans:  these will be created based on the level of involvement the family wants but will include   three parts.

    1. prevention: strategies to reduce the possibility the behaviour (s) from occurring

    2.  skill building: the replacement behaviour (s) and or new skill (s) is taught 

    3.  intervention: what to do when the undesired behaviour happens.

     5. Monitor and Revise:  On-going behavioural supervision is required to ensure effective intervention

        Programs will need to be monitored to determine when they are complete or need to be revised. 

        How this will look will also depend on the level of service requested.

 Who can complete a functional behaviour assessment?

Currently anyone can complete a functional behaviour assessment.  There is no specific designation or training required to complete this type of assessment.

The benefits of a Board Certified Behaviour Analysis conducting the assessment are: graduate level education in the science of ABA; supervised fieldwork; and adherence to the code of ethics outlined by the Behavior Analysis Certification board. Behaviour Analysts are currently being reviewed by the Ontario government for regulation under the College of Psychologists.

What are the benefits of a functional behaviour assessment?

 Studies have shown thatwhen interventions are implemented based on the functions of a behaviour they are more effective at changing behaviours and maintaining these changes.

What are the Functions of behaviour?

Sensory or automatic reinforcement: the person engages in this behaviour because it feels good.  This behaviour is going to occur whether people are present or not.  This behaviour can look very different between individuals and still be considered 'sensory'. 

Escape: this occurs when the induvial uses a behaviour to avoid or delay having to complete tasks or activities.

Attention  this happens when the individual uses behaviour to obtain a social response from others.  Social responses do not need to be positive or negative; it can simply be the reaction that continues the behaviour.

Tangible: this is when the behaviour is occurring to obtain access to desired items or activities.  This may require a social interaction but it is the 'item' versus the interaction that increases the behaviour.

All behaviour occurs for a reason.   When we know the reason we know the function.

When is a functional behaviour assessment needed?

When a behaviour change is desired or necessary.  The change in may be an increase or decrease in behaviour. Functional  based interventions are more effective and long lasting in maintaing behavioural change.