Functional Behavior Assessments tend to be yet another aspect in the special education world that is shrouded in mystery and misunderstanding. Many educators believe that FBA’s should be reserved for the toughest behaviors, and should only be conducted by highly trained individuals, immensely narrowing the field of students who benefit from this tool. Still some other educators and parents don’t know that this tool even exists.
The truth is, FBA’s can actually benefit a wide range of individuals with a variety of disabilities and “problem” behaviors. The key to understanding this is to go back to the basics when looking at Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) methodologies:
We have a behavior that is impacting my child in a socially significant way, and it needs to be changed.
Once one has reached this conclusion, the benefits of an FBA can be realized. Special care should be utilized when thinking about the “social significance” of a behavior, as FBA’s are not reserved for aggressive and disruptive behaviors only. Is your child having trouble concentrating? Is she not able to participate in a variety of social activities? Does your child seem overly anxious? These types of broad issues can be used as a spring board for a FBA, ultimately determining a clear baseline and plan for intervention.
Another common misconception is that FBA’s are needed in the first place. Many teachers and parents with the best of intentions, begin an intervention to target a problem behavior with little knowledge of baseline information. This often leads to more confusion and frustration, as these tactics may work for a bit but then fade away, or they may even make the behavior worse!
FBA’s are important for establishing baseline information, understanding the detailed conditions under which the behavior is occurring, and answering questions as to why the behavior is occurring. If you don’t have this information, you most certainly will not be able to put together a meaningful behavior plan to address this problem behavior.
Just remember this: If you don’t have a good FBA, you have nothing! Well, I might be exaggerating a little here, but it truly is important and can ultimately be that last little piece to put in the educational puzzle to help your child soar.
Ms. Austin will be presenting on Functional Behavior Assessments, what they are, who should do them, and what they should contain, on July 7th, 2015. Register for the webinar here.