2 Positive Behavior Support (PBS) Training Modules This is the second of four PBS training modules. 2. Functional Behavior Assessment The other modules should be taken in the following order: 1. Collaborative Teaming and Person-Centered Planning 2. Functional Behavior Assessment 3. Instructional Issues and Strategies 4. Developing, Implementing, and Evaluating Positive Behavior Support Plans These modules are designed to support a team as they go through a Positive Behavior Support process with a child or adult with problem behaviors. Let's begin with the second module by reviewing the goal of Florida's PBS Project and the definition of Positive Behavior Support.
4 The Functional Behavior Assessment and Person-Centered Planning As previously reviewed in module 1, Person-Centered Planning is a process for learning about a person's past, his or her present environment and his or her goals for the future. That process of gathering data is similar in many ways to the FBA process. The main difference however, is that the PCP focus is broad and encompasses any pertinent information as it relates to the person and his or her well-being. The FBA process has a more narrow focus and information is gathered as it relates specifically to the problem behavior(s) that are being targeted.
5 The Purpose of the Functional Behavior Assessment (FBA) The Functional Behavioral Assessment is a problem-solving process for gathering information about an individual’s problem behavior. It relies on a variety of techniques and strategies to help identify the function/purpose of the problem behavior, and aids in the selection of interventions to directly address the problem behavior.
Functional Behavior Assessment Functional Behavior Assessment is a PROCESS for UNDERSTANDING the functions or purpose of behavior through the recognition of environmental factors that “trigger” the behavior and the actual consequences that maintain the behavior. This definition may not make much sense to you. There are lots of words like function, trigger, and consequence that may be new to you. We hope that these words and this definition will make more sense to you as we continue. Let’s start with the definition of “behavior”.
7 Understanding Behavior Behavior is anything we say or do. It is how we react to our environment. It is important to understand why problem behaviors occur in order to effectively intervene and resolve the problem behavior. Behaviors are directly affected by events in the environment that occur prior to the behavior. These events or circumstances in the environment help “trigger” the behavior. Similarly, the events that immediately follow the behavior (consequence) can help maintain, increase, or decrease problem behaviors. Behaviors that lead to satisfying outcomes are likely to be repeated; behaviors that lead to undesired outcomes are less likely to be repeated. When we become aware of what occurs prior to the behavior and what occurs after the behavior we are better equipped to identify “why” the problem behavior is occurring. Understanding the problem behavior’s purpose or “function” makes it possible to intervene effectively and resolve the problem behavior.
In order to fully appreciate how “understanding the functions or purpose of behavior” can make it possible to change, modify, or replace inappropriate behavior, it is first necessary that you understand some basic principles of behavior. 1. Behavior is related to its context. The things going on in our lives or in the immediate environment directly influence our behavior. For example, how do you think John would behave after being punched by another student? Would his test taking behavior be different if he was in a hot room? Could his behavior be affected if he didn’t sleep last night? 2. Behaviors change as people mature and develop new skills and enter new environments and settings. For example, a person’s behavior may change depending on whether they are at a formal dinner or attending a backyard barbeque. Similarly, most 12-year-old children don’t act the same as 50-year-old adults 3. Behaviors have a “reason” for occurring. If behavior produces something positive it is likely to increase or be maintained. If not, it is likely to decrease. Therefore, any responses to behavior (consequences) may increase or decrease the occurrence of problem behavior
The Context of Behavior We reviewed that behavior is often influenced by “factors” in the environment. We refer to those factors as either a SLOW TRIGGER or a FAST TRIGGER. Triggers are events that happen before the behavior and increase the likelihood that the behavior will occur. SLOW TRIGGERS (setting events) may be more distant in time, yet increase the likelihood of behavior. Examples: forgot to take medicine, argument with parents the night before, got up too late to eat breakfast FAST TRIGGERS (immediate antecedents) are those events that occur immediately before the behavior. Examples: demand made, working as part of a group, non-preferred activity assigned
11 What are Problem Behaviors? Problem behaviors include any act or series of acts that may impede the learning of the student or other students in the environment. These behaviors might include but not limited to: hitting other students with fists biting teachers and paraprofessionals throwing work materials on the floor banging your head against the wall leaving class without permission property destruction
12 Defining the Behavior It is important that the behavior that is being targeted in your Functional Behavior Assessment is defined so that it is both observable and measurable. For example, the meaning of "tantrum" may vary from one person to the next. “Tantrum” can be defined as any of the following: 1. crying and throwing objects 2. laying on the floor, stomping feet 3. screaming at everyone in the room
13 What is the Consequence of Behavior? What is the Consequence of the Behavior? As previously mentioned, the response (or consequence) to a behavior may increase or decrease the occurrence of problem behavior depending on whether the outcome for that person was positive or negative. For example: Latoya wants to make more friends at school. She makes faces at the teacher and throws paper when the teacher’s back is turned. Her peers laugh at her behavior as she is escorted to the principal's office. Later that day, she is asked to attend a birthday party for another student in her class. The desired outcome for Latoya's problem behavior (i.e., making more friends) was obtained and she will be more likely to engage in the behavior again.
14 What is the Consequence of Behavior? Or perhaps? Latoya's peers may have relayed that her behavior was “childish” and “silly.” Her desire outcome would not have been obtained, making her problem behavior less likely to occur in the future. Note: It is important to note that Latoya was sent to the office for her problem behavior. However, her “punishment” was not effective since the function of her behavior was “to gain friendships” and she was able to successfully do so regardless of the punishment she received.
15 Functions of Behavior Now, by observing “triggers” for behavior and observing what follows the behavior, we can begin to understand the function of the problem behavior or “why” that behavior is occurring. This information is essential in developing the best behavior support plan for that individual.
Two Major Functions of Behavior Most all behaviors occur for a reason. Behavior has two major functions/purposes: either to GET something or to GET AWAY from something. Take a look at the following chart. Try to think of several behaviors you have encountered or some of your own behavior. Are you surprised that they all fit somewhere in the chart?
17 Two Major Functions of Behavior Look at the following sample behaviors and notice that the function is either to AVOID or GET something. Sample Behavior Function Have a headache & take aspirin to GET AWAY from a sensory experience Eat ice cream to GET a sensory experience Throw paper in class to GET AWAY from some tangible activity Dye hair blue to GET attention
What Do We Learn From A FBA? A Functional Behavior Assessment tells us more specifically about the sequence of Interactions related to the student of concern. It helps us to identify slow triggers, fast triggers, consequences, communication and social skills, strengths and preferences, and the behavior history of the child. We also gain knowledge of beliefs, values, resources, and concerns of the family, school and support staff. Used as a preventative process, the Functional Behavior Assessment process should begin before the occurrence of multiple suspensions or before a crisis occurs. Research supports the proactive use of Functional Behavior Assessment and it is recognized as best practice and designed so that the information gathered leads to strategies that prevent the behavior from occurring.
Who Participates in a FBA Process? The Functional Behavior Assessment is typically conducted by a group of individuals who know the student well. These individuals may include the child's teacher, speech pathologist, counselor, behavior specialist, family members, etc. The family (potentially any family member involved in developing and implementing the behavior support plan) are encouraged to participate. They often provide invaluable information regarding the child's behavior history, health history, and prior successes. School personnel often provide important information regarding the student's behavior at school including information regarding the individual's motivation, academic abilities, and social skills with same age peers. The individual engaged in the behavior(s) being targeted are encouraged to participate when possible. Information that can be obtained from other persons who know the child in other contexts outside of the family or school (e.g., swimming or soccer coach, after school or day care staff, etc.) may provide valuable information in the process.
21 Steps in the FBA Process Steps in the Functional Behavior Assessment Process Step 1: Review Existing Records Step 2: Conduct Interviews Step 3: Make Direct Observations Step 4: Collect Additional Data, if necessary Step 5: Generate Hypotheses about the Behavior
22 Step 1: Review Existing Records The first step in the Functional Behavior Assessment process is to examine all existing records and document history. Search for information that may be affecting behavior or had a significant impact on past behavior. Such information may include health history, academic success, relocation, suspension/expulsion information, previous behavior plans, etc. A simple review of records often leads to that “missing piece of the puzzle” necessary to understand the reason for the problem behavior(s). Here are examples of information that might be found in a record review. Ask yourself if any of the following information would be beneficial and assist in understanding why the problem behavior is occurring: history of abuse failed hearing/vision test death of a parent recently placed in foster care attended school a total of 4 weeks in the past 2 years frequent medication changes
Step 2: Conduct Interviews An interview usually consists of a set of questions that focus on the triggers of behavior, a description of the behavior, the responses to the behavior, what the child gets from engaging in the behavior (function), and the strengths and interests of the child. It is important to also seek family input about lifestyle issues if possible. Interviews should be conducted with those most familiar with the child. Those interviewed may include the child’s teacher(s), parent(s), caretaker, social worker, after-school program directors, etc. Questions typically included in a behavior interview includes: How would you describe the problem behavior? How often does the problem behavior occur? When does the problem behavior occur most frequently? Are there any situations in which the problem behavior is more likely to occur? What happens following the problem behavior? What helps to make the problem behavior less likely to occur?
24 Interview Form INTERVIEW FORM Person Interviewed: _________Date: _____________ Subject of Interview: _________Interviewer: _________ 1). Which of ________’s behaviors are of concern to you? 2). Describe the behavior (For example, when Suzie has “tantrums”, she screams loudly, throws her books to the floor and pushes her desk into the student sitting in front of her). 3). How often does the behavior occur? 4). When/where is the behavior MOST likely to occur? 5). When/where is the behavior LEAST likely to occur? 6). What is usually happening right BEFORE the behavior occurs? 7). What usually happens right AFTER the behavior occurs?
25 Step 3: Make Direct Observations Observations usually follow an interview to confirm and enhance the information gained from the interview. Observations should be conducted in the environment in which the problem behavior is most often seen, and can include more than one setting, such as the classroom and home. When conducting an observation, indicate the setting events or triggers that occurred prior to the problem behavior. Describe what the problem behavior looked like in such detail that someone reading your description might be able to form an accurate picture of the events. Be sure to also indicate the events and actions that immediately followed the problem behavior and note the response to those events/actions. More formal observation can also be conducted through the use of either an ABC observation form or a Scatter Plot Form.
26 Collecting ABC Data ABC data collection is a method of gathering information to identify events that precede the behavior, events that follow the behavior, and environmental patterns. You can download a blank form on our website.
27 Scatter Plot Data A Scatter Plot is a method of recording occurrence and nonoccurrence of behavior across activities, routines, and time periods, providing a visual display of patterns. The Scatter Plot is used to help identify patterns of behavior and suggests possible sources of environmental control. For example, by charting each time the problem behavior occurs you may begin to see patterns emerge during specific times of the day and/or during specific activities. This information may lead you to modify certain environmental influences to try to decrease the occurrence of problem behavior.
Step 4: Collect Additional Data Data is useful to help identify patterns of behavior (e.g., Mason’s inappropriate behaviors occur most frequently during math class and immediately following lunch). Specifically, data should be collected when: The Functional Behavior Assessment team decides more information is necessary about the student in the school setting(s) The Functional Behavior Assessment team wants specific information about the behaviors (e.g., frequency, duration, times of day, etc.) The collection of data can also give a clear picture of how often the inappropriate behaviors were occurring prior to implementing an intervention. Therefore, we can compare the data from before our intervention to after our intervention and determine if the inappropriate behaviors are decreasing (i.e., determine whether our intervention is working). Specifically, data may be collected when: School staff or administration needs information supporting the Positive Behavior Support process Intervention success or outcomes need documentation Some ways to document success is to count and see if the behavior is decreasing over time or check if the duration of behavior has decreased over time
30 Step 5: Generate a Hypothesis After gathering information for the Functional Behavior Assessment, synthesize and organize the information and try to identify patterns of occurrence and nonoccurrence. The goal is then to generate hypotheses that describe the context of slow and fast triggers, problem behaviors, and the function of the behavior. A HYPOTHESIS is one’s best-informed guess about the relation between environmental events or conditions and an individual’s problem behavior. When developing your hypothesis, it may be helpful to use the following formula: - When (describe fast trigger and/or slow trigger) occurs?. - The individual does (describe the behavior)? - To get or escape or avoid (describe functions)
31 Step 5: Generate a Hypothesis Example: Hypothesis Statement "When Beverly, (Fast trigger) is not engaged with others or when she’s engaged in activities for 15 minutes or longer (especially during lunch or free time) (Slow trigger) did not get to sleep before 11 p.m. The previous evening or does not feel well (The student does) she screams, slaps her face and pulls her hair? (In order to get) to gain access to teacher attention.?
32 Module Review In this module you have been given an introduction to: Why behavior occurs Basic principles of behavior Why we need to know the function of the behavior The Functional Behavior Assessment process The tools needed to conduct a Functional Behavior Assessment