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Conducting Functional Behavior Assessments for Students with ASD

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1 Conducting Functional Behavior Assessments for Students with ASD
Module 8 Lesson 2

2 Outline Overview of FBA Functions for Challenging Behavior
Steps for Conducting a FBA

3 Defining Functional Behavior Assessment
A function means that the behavior serves a purpose for the individual.  Behavior functions to make some desired change in the environment.  The FBA approach is built on the premise that before planning intervention to address challenging behaviors, information about the nature of the problem behavior and the environmental contexts in which the behavior is observed is essential (Sugai et al., 1999). Thus, FBA is a method of assessing the relationship between the environment and behavior (O'Neill et al., 1997). Parents and teachers will often report that challenging behaviors occur for no reason at all. While it may seem that way, there is always a reason why challenging behaviors occur. This is referred to as the function for the behaviors.

4 Functions for Challenging Behavior
There are two major functions for challenging behavior to gain access to something to escape from/avoid something (Scott & Caron, 2005) However, there are multiple ways of looking at functions within those two categories The next slide shows a table with examples related to the two main functions for challenging behaviors

5 The Purpose of Conduction FBAs
The purpose of conducting a FBA is to develop a behavior intervention plan (BIP) that encourages the individual to engage in alternative prosocial behaviors (replacement behaviors) that serve the same function as the problem behavior and make necessary environment arrangements to prevent problem behavior from occurring (Horner, 1994) BIPs based on FBAs are effective for individuals of all ages and all functioning levels (Hanley, Piazza, Fisher, & Maglieri, 2005) To effectively address challenging behavior, we must first understand the purpose that the behavior is serving for the individual and what environmental factors are influencing the behavior

6 Examples of Functions of Challenging Behavior
To Gain Access to Something To Escape or Avoid Something To gain positive or negative attention To escape from or avoid undesirable tasks such as difficult schoolwork. To obtain a tangible consequence: food, drink, a token, money, a favorite toy or object. To avoid or escape from undesirable social situations such as social games, conversations, or turn-taking play activities. To gain access to a desired activity such as use of a computer, watching a video, listening to music, etc. To avoid or escape from attention. For example, if a child doesn’t like to receive extensive amounts of praise, the child may display challenging behavior to avoid or escape from someone who typically delivers large amounts of praise. To gain sensory consequence: to get warmer if one is cold, or cooler if hot, to gain some tactile, taste, auditory, visual, or physical consequence. To avoid particular objects or events that are aversive to the individual. For example, an individual may display challenging behavior when a particular sound is heard or when going on an airplane. To obtain emotional regulation. For example, if a child with autism is disengaged, bored, anxious, or frustrated, the child may engage in self-stimulatory behavior for regulation purposes (to feel better) due to lack of communication and social interaction skills. To escape from internal stimulation that is painful or uncomfortable. For example, a child who is nonverbal may display self-injurious behavior because of a severe toothache. The difference between escape and avoidance is that escape motivated behaviors occur during the activity the individual finds undesirable while avoidance behaviors occur before the undesirable activity is expected to occur.

7 Steps for Conducting a FBA
Selecting a Target Behavior Collect Baseline Data Collect Data to Develop a Hypothesis for the Function of the Behavior Triangulate the Data to Form a Hypothesis

8 Step 1: Selecting a Target Behavior

9 Selecting a Target Behavior
Target behaviors are challenging behaviors that are having a negative impact on the individual displaying them and/or others Target behaviors must be defined in ways that are observable and measurable The next slide shows examples and non-examples of possible target behaviors for students with ASD

10 Target Behaviors Examples Non-Examples
The student runs out of the classroom. The student is non-compliant. The student shouts out inappropriate verbalizations that are not related to the content being presented during whole group and small group instruction. The student is disruptive. The student hits himself in the face with an open hand. The student is aggressive. The student undresses in the cafeteria. The student displays inappropriate social behavior.

11 Selecting a Target Behavior
It is helpful to collaborate with the people who spend the most time with the student and create a list of challenging behaviors You may then choose to create “classes,” or groups, of behaviors For example, you may have a class of aggressive behaviors that entail hitting, kicking, and spitting. You may also have a class of non-compliant behaviors such as not following directions, talking back, and failure to begin tasks. But, not all target behaviors will belong to a class of behaviors. For example, a target behavior may simply be running away from adults Some individuals may display a variety of challenging behaviors at the same time. However, you cannot plan to assess the function for all of the behaviors during one FBA If you create classes of behaviors that are likely to serve the same function, you can collect data on all of the behaviors during the FBA process as opposed to only selecting one behavior. This can allow you to have more information as you develop a hypothesis for the function of the behavior. You may learn during the FBA process, that all of the behaviors in the class do serve the same function, or you may learn that they serve different functions.

12 Selecting Target Behaviors
To determine which behavior or class of behaviors to target, the following questions can help in the decision making process: Is the behavior dangerous to the child or to others? Is the behavior disruptive on a frequent basis or to an intense level? Does the behavior interfere with socialization or acceptance from peers? Does the behavior interfere with learning, either academic or social? Will decreasing this behavior result in positive outcomes for the child?

13 Selecting a Target Behavior
You may choose to prioritize the behaviors on the list and begin addressing the first priority, the second, and so on. It is important to note, however, that you do not necessarily have to select the most severe behavior to address first. For example, it may be that focusing on decreasing off-task behaviors at school will also decrease aggression. Thus, it may be appropriate to begin with a less severe behavior such as off-task behaviors as you may see decreases in other more severe challenging behaviors while doing so. However, if the behavior poses an immediate threat to the individual or others, then that behavior should be dealt with first.

14 Step 2: Collect Baseline Data

15 Collect Baseline Data It is important to collect baseline data on the target behavior for two main reasons: Determine if the defined target behavior occurs often or intensely enough to warrant conducting a FBA Have pre-intervention data that can be compared to data collected during the implementation of the BIP to determine the effectiveness of the plan

16 Collect Baseline Data The method for collecting data will depend on the target behavior selected The next slide shows a table of the different types of data collection procedures with explanations for implementation To view actual data sheet samples for each procedure presented, ask a special education teacher, behavior analyst, or school psychologist who is responsible for conducting FBAs to share the ones they use with you

17 Examples of Methods for Collecting Data (Glasberg, 2006)
Procedure Explanation Examples Frequency or Rate recording Counting how many times something happens during a given time. Hitting, running away, cursing, undressing Duration Measuring how long a behavior lasts Tantrums, crying Latency Measuring the amount of time that elapses between the onset of an event and the start of a behavior Following directions, disruptive behavior that occurs during instructional activities Intensity Tracking the various degrees of intensity of behavior using a rating system such as: 1: taps face; 2: slaps face but leaves no mark; 3: slaps face and leaves a red mark Self-injurious behavior, tantrums. screaming Partial Interval Time Sample The observation period is broken into small intervals and the observer indicates whether the behavior occurred or not during that interval. High frequency behaviors such as self-stimulatory behaviors, talking out of turn If you observe for the same amount of time for each observation period than you can use frequency recording. If the amount of time you collect data varies for each observation, then counting how many times something happens and divide by the length of the observation period to get a rate per minute or hour.

18 Step 3: Collect Data to Develop a Hypothesis for the Function of the Behavior

19 Functional Behavior Assessment Interview
A FBA Interview entails conducting interviews with as many individuals as appropriate to acquire information about the student’s target behavior across a variety of contexts. The interview should consist of questions related to under what conditions the behavior is most likely to occur, least likely to occur, and what typically happens before, during and after the behavior. The individual being interviewed should be given an opportunity at the end of the conversation to state why they believe the behavior is occurring. The following link from the Center for Effective Collaboration and Practice (CECP) provides an example of an interview form that can be used when conducting FBA’s: These individuals may include: General education teacher Special education teacher Parent Speech/Language Pathologist Paraprofessional Related Arts Teachers (art, music, p.e.) Student (if appropriate)

20 Direct Observation Based on the information gathered during the FBA Interviews, direct observations should be conducted to accurately identify antecedents and consequences associated with the behavior and likely functions of the behavior. (Calloway & Simpson, 1998) A-B-C data collection and scatter plots are two effective procedures for gathering information related to the function of target behaviors. The information gathered from the interviews should be used to plan the necessary direct observations. For example, if a teacher reports that the target behavior is most likely to occur between 12:00 pm and 1:30 pm during science and social studies lessons, then a direct observation should certainly be conducted at that time. Additionally, it may also be beneficial to conduct direct observations during times when the behavior is least likely to occur. This can provide you with valuable information about what “works” for the individual. This information can be used when developing the behavior intervention plan. There is no set number of direct observations that should be completed. It depends on the information gathered during the interviews. If it is reported that the behavior is seen in the cafeteria, on the bus, and in physical education class, then conducting direct observations in at least two of those places would be appropriate and necessary.

21 A-B-C Data Collection The A in the A-B-C model refers to antecedents (events that take place before the behavior occurs) The B in the A-B-C model refers to target behavior that follows the antecedent The C in the A-B-C Model represents consequences (these are events that take place after the behavior occurs) Antecedents are events, people, or things that immediately precede problem behavior. Antecedents can be related to time of day, setting, people who are present or who are not present, or activities taking place within the setting. The antecedent may be external, such as lighting, smells, noise, or verbal instructions, or it may be internal, such as stomachache, hunger, sleeplessness, or medication. Being yelled at or teased by other children, being told to complete an assignment, having a toy taken away, or being told to stop engaging in a preferred activity are possible antecedents. Antecedent events can also include the absence of something. The absence of attention, being ignored by peers or adults, or the absence of a favored activity can be an antecedent event. When conducting direct observations using A-B-C data collection tools as part of a functional behavior assessment, the behavior recorded should typically be the target behavior. It is not necessary to collect A-B-C data on every single behavior the individual displays during the observation. However, it may be appropriate to collect A-B-C data on behaviors that are the opposite of the target behavior to learn what works best with the individual. Consequences are events that follow a behavior and influence the probability of the behavior occurring in the future. Consequences will affect the future rate, duration, and intensity of a behavior. The probability of a behavior reoccurring will increase or decrease depending on what type of consequence follows it. Consequences that are reinforcers will increase the probability of the behavior occurring in the future and punishers will decrease future occurrence of the behavior. Behaviors are followed by consequences that are either reinforcing or punishing.

22 Analyzing A-B-C Data Collection
When analyzing the information from the A-B-C data collection you should look for: how frequently the challenging behavior occurs consistent patterns of reinforcement or punishment of the behavior identifiable antecedents of the behavior (patterns to the antecedents) recurring chains of specific antecedents, behaviors, and consequences (Alberto & Troutman, 1999)

23 A-B-C Data Form Date/Time Setting Events Antecedent Behavior Consequence Possible Function When using this form the observer will document each time the target behavior occurs along with the antecedent to the behavior and consequence. This form allows the observer to use the same form to record various times of the day or to use the same form for different dates depending on what makes the most sense in the particular situation. You will notice a column for setting events. That column is used to describe the situation leading up to the antecedent. You will also see a column for possible function. This allows the observer to analyze the information collected after the observation and for each occurrence of the target behavior, indicate a possible function for the behavior. This is helpful in determining a hypothesis for the function(s) for the behavior after a variety of data have been collected.

24 Example of an A-B-C Data Form
Date/ Time Setting Events Antecedent Behavior Consequence Possible Function 4/2/08: 9:00am John was asked to get off of the computer for writing. The teacher gives John a writing assignment John runs out of the room The teacher chases after John. Once she gets him, John is sent to the office. Avoid writing assignment 4/3/08: 11:00am All of the students are playing with one another. John roams around the playground by himself. Walks by the teacher several times. John runs away from the playground. The teacher runs after John and brings him back to the playground. Get teacher attention 4/4/08: 10:15am The students are at centers working. John is roaming around the room. John runs out of the room. The teacher runs after John and brings him back to the room. You can see with this data that there may be more than one function for John’s running out of the room behavior. This observational data alone would need to be combined with other observational data and FBA interviews to determine the best hypothesis for the function of the behavior.

25 Scatter Plots Scatter plots allow the observer to identify patterns of behavior that relate to specific conditions. The observer records the amount of times the behavior occurs at the identified times and locations on a chart or grid. If it would be helpful to determine when and where the behavior is occurring the most often and least often then using a scatter plot would be appropriate. For example, if a middle school student is yelling out during instruction, it may be necessary to use a scatter plot to determine in what classes does the behavior happen most often or what portions of the class period does the behavior occur most often to assist in determining a hypothesis for the function of the behavior. The following link from CECP provides a variety of examples of scatter plots:

26 Step 4: Triangulate the Data to Form a Hypothesis

27 Triangulating the Data
At least three sources of information should be used to develop the hypothesis as opposed to simply relying on information collected from interviews or A-B-C data alone. This process is called data triangulation. The following link from CECP provides examples of charts that can be used to show data triangulation: After a variety of data have been collected through the use of functional behavior assessment interviews, A-B-C data collection, and scatterplot data (if appropriate), the data must then be analyzed as a whole to develop a hypothesis for the function of the target behavior.

28 Forming a Hypothesis A hypothesis should address the purpose the behavior serves for the student, how the behavior is related to setting events, antecedents and consequences, and may also include information about skill deficits (Scheuermann & Webber, 2002) For example, a hypothesis that states, “William runs out of the classroom to avoid work,” is not very specific. Instead the hypothesis may state, “William runs out of his science and math classrooms when given directions to go to his designated work group to avoid working collaboratively and socially interacting with peers.” This hypothesis statement addresses the function for the behavior (avoiding work), how it is related to setting events, antecedents, and consequences (math and science classes, working collaboratively with peers), and skill deficits in social interaction. After triangulating the data, a hypothesis for the function of the target behavior can be developed. This hypothesis should be specific and include as much information as possible.

29 Forming a Hypothesis When triangulating the data, you may deduct that the target behavior has multiple functions. Here are some examples: A student may engage in self-injurious behaviors to gain attention and to escape difficult tasks A student may engage in vocal “stims” to gain sensory stimulation during times when he is disengaged and to get attention from the teacher

30 Conclusion It is important to note, that a FBA should not exist without the purpose of developing a Behavior Intervention Plan (BIP) In other words, a FBA is not intended to be an intervention in and of itself (Nelson, Roberts, Mathur, & Rutherford, 1999) Conducting a FBA allows school staff to make informed decisions related to the function of a student’s behavior for purposes of developing effective BIPs.

31 Module 8 Lesson 2 Activity
Conduct a FBA for a child with ASD that you are currently working with. You can work with the teacher(s) from you district who are also taking this course and turn in one FBA if that is possible. If not, you can either conduct it by yourself or with a team at your school. Turn in a description of the target behavior, any FBA Interviews you conducted, direct observation data, and a hypotheses form through data triangulation.

32 References Alberto, P., & Troutman, A. (1999). Applied behavior analysis for teacher (5th ed.). Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Merrill. Calloway, C. J., & Simpson, R. L. (1998). Decisions regarding functions of behavior: Scientific versus informal analyses. Focus on Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities, 13(3), Center for Effective Collaboration and Practice (CECP): Glasberg, B. A. (2006). Functional behavior assessment for people with autism: Making sense of seemingly senseless behavior. Bethesda, MD: Woodbine House. Hanley, G. Pl, Piazza, C. C., Fisher, W.W., & Maglieri, K. A. (2005). On the effectiveness of and preference for punishment and extinction components of function-based interventions. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 38, Horner, R. H. (1994). Functional assessment: Contributions and future directions. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 27, Nelson, J. R., Robers, M. L., Mathur, S. R., & Rutherford, R. B. (1999). Has pubic policy exceeded our knowledge base? A review of the functional behavioral assessment literature. Behavioral Disorders, 24, O'Neill, R. E., Horner, R. H., Albin, R. W., Sprague, J. R., Storey, D., & Newton, J. S. (1997). Functional assessment and program development for problem behavior: A practical handbook (2nd ed.). Pacific Grove, CA: Brooks/Cole. Scheuermann, B., & Webber, J. (2002). Autism: Teaching does make a difference. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth/Thomson Learning. Scott, T. M, & Caron, D. B. (2005). Conceptualizing functional behavior assessment as prevention practice within positive behavior support systems. Preventing School Failure, 50 (1), Sugai, G., Horner, R., Dunlap, G., Hieneman, M., Lewis, T., Nelson, M., Scott, T., Liaupsin, C., Sailor, W., Turnbull, A., Rutherford, H., Wickham, D., Ruef, M., & Wilcox, B. (1999). Applying positive behavioral support and functional behavior assessment in schools. Technical Assistance Guide 1, Version Center on Positive Behavioral Interventions and Support (OSEP), Washington, D.C.

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