The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) requires the IEP Team to perform a Functional Behavioral Assessment (FBA) on a child with an IEP, if it is determined that any problem behaviors are caused by the child’s disability. So what does it mean to perform an FBA?
An FBA is an approach that incorporates a variety of strategies and techniques to diagnose the causes of problem behaviors and to identify useful interventions. FBA’s look past what the behavior looks like or sounds like and focuses on identifying biological, social, and environmental factors that initiate, sustain, or end the behavior in question.
The message of the behavior is not usually considered inappropriate; rather, it is the behavior itself that should be considered appropriate or inappropriate. A child seeking attention in the classroom might, 1) try to finish their class work quickly and quietly, or 2) run around the room throwing books in the air. The child seeking attention through finishing their class work is using appropriate behavior, while the child destroying the room is not; however, both are seeking attention from the Teacher. Thus, performing an FBA can help the IEP Team find replacement behaviors, which serve the same purpose as the inappropriate behaviors.
Key components of an FBA:
- Collecting the data;
- Observing and recording situational factors that contribute to the behavior (Direct Assessment);
- Interview with significant others such as Teachers, family, and friends (Indirect assessment);
- Should include the frequency, duration and intensity of the behavior;
- Should include the reactions that occur following the behavior;
- Should include the setting, activities and types of instruction that cause the behavior; and
- Should use multiple sources and methods.
- Reviewing the data; and
- Are there any patterns associated with the behavior.
- Creating a hypothesis regarding the behavior;
- The IEP Team needs to find a reasonable explanation for the student’s behavior;
- This hypothesis should include the general conditions under which the behavior is most and least likely to occur; and
- The FBA needs to come up with positive response options which could reduce problem behavior. Could include, ignoring the behavior, allowing short breaks before a behavior is triggered, or verbal redirection, to name a few.
The FBA should be completed by someone with training in behavior analysis. Once the FBA is complete, you can use this report to come up with a Behavior Support Plan (BSP) to include in the child’s IEP. Do not expect the child’s behavior to change overnight after an FBA has been completed and the BSP is written. Give it time to work, however, if it’s still not working after an acceptable amount of time, do not be afraid to make changes to the BSP.