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Special Education Law

What is a functional behavior assessment?

On Behalf of | May 28, 2024 | Behavior Intervention Plans, IEP |

A functional behavior assessment (FBA) helps an IEP team understand why a child behaves in a certain way. It looks at the reasons behind behaviors (i.e., the function), especially challenging ones, to find ways to address them. This approach proves valuable in educational settings, ensuring that interventions meet the child’s needs.

Steps in conducting an FBA

A FBA starts with identifying and defining the specific target behaviors that needs to be addressed. These behaviors might include actions like aggression, self-injury or disruptive outbursts. Clear definitions help everyone involved understand exactly what is being observed and measured.

Next, the assessment collects information about the behavior. This data comes from various sources such as direct observation, interviews, a review of records and questionnaires. Teachers, parents and other providers often provide valuable insights during this stage. Trained observers note when and where the behavior occurs, as well as what happens before and after it. This helps identify patterns and possible triggers.

Understand the function of behavior

One key aspect of a FBA is understanding the function of the behavior. Behaviors usually serve a purpose or function for the child. Common functions include seeking attention, escaping a difficult situation, gaining access to a desired item or activity or seeking sensory stimulation. By identifying the function, interventions can be more effectively designed to meet the child’s needs in a positive way.

Importance of FBAs in educational settings

The importance of FBAs in educational settings cannot be overstated. Many students display challenging behaviors that hinder their learning and disrupt the classroom. By conducting a FBA, educators can develop behavior intervention plans (BIP) that address the root causes of these behaviors. For example, if a student acts out to escape difficult tasks, a BIP might include strategies to provide more support during those tasks. This ensures that interventions are not just punitive but also supportive and educational.

Promote understanding and compassion

FBAs promote understanding and compassion. They move beyond simply punishing undesirable behaviors and instead focus on teaching and reinforcing positive behaviors. This approach benefits not only the child but also those around them, creating a more supportive and effective environment for everyone involved.