What is FBA (Functional Behavioral Assessment) and how does it assist with behavioral challenges?

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M.P. Ossa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

A Functional Behavioral Assessment (FBA) assesses the way in which negative behavior is triggered, and in which ways it can be avoided, deflected, controlled, and contained. The form itself comprises a list of observable behaviors, of potential causes and results of behaviors, and of strategies to be used, along with their results. An IEP team, or a teacher team can draft their own FBA, but there are plenty of generic formats that are readily available. 

The use of the FBA is mainly to address behavioral issues that affect students academically. For this reason, just like with IEPs, an FBA will necessitate the input and expert opinion of several different professionals within the field, to include the teacher, counselor, principal, OT, and all other social support systems. 

Since there is not one behavior that can stem from only one source, a compilation of observable traits and tendencies must be present to view the behavior within a context, rather than as an isolated event. This means that everything is taken into consideration when determining what leads students to make specific behavior choices. 

The assessment itself uses multiple strategies:

ABC approach- Antecedent-Behavior-Consequence; an observation of before-during-after behaviors to determine the cause of them. 

Scatter Plot-Matrix- a correlation chart that shows the relationship between an intervention and its result. It identifies potential environmental factors that would trigger behavior for the better or worse (i.e., student will start working independently, or in near proximity to the teacher (et al) to try and see if the behaviors improve)

Analysis- the impact of the intervention is detailed and analyzed by the group. Correlations are made official, i.e., Monique loses her temper when other students win treats and she does not; hence, we will detour this behavior by _________.

Hypotheticals- if/then scenarios are suggested to test out new interventions complete with changes in location, instruction, even student placement. 

Accommodations- After a period of testing and analyzing variables and how they affect behavior, the teacher will list what worked and keep the changes made on record.

An FBA is not a final nor a static document. It is meant to be revisited, and is is likely to be changed as new behaviors are manipulated.