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FBA Times 3

  • Posted on March 20, 2013 at 10:00 AM

FBA stands for functional behavioral assessment. It’s a tool the US public school system uses to analyze behaviors that impact educational performance. The inputs consist of various analyses, performed by various people, all of which are intended to identify and explain problem behaviors; this is similar in nature to the analysis that should be done throughout an ABA program (autism treatment). The idea is to determine what function a child’s behavior serves in the mind of the child; thus, you are assessing the function of a behavior, i.e., functional behavioral assessment.

The FBA culminates in a team meeting (or several), during which the team discusses what was learned through the FBA process, what may still need to be learned, and makes decisions on what can be done to prevent/reduce/eliminate these behaviors. These decisions make up the BIP or behavioral intervention plan, or the planned strategies to intervene to address problematic behaviors.

The concept itself seems pretty self-explanatory, and yet it seems that a real FBA is hard to come by. The reason for this is because it’s far too easy for people, including special education staff and parents, to assume that a behavior is “naughty” and to focus on ways to “correct” that naughty behavior. Unfortunately, this often leads to punishment, which doesn’t really correct the behavior. You see, behaviors—even undesirable behaviors—serve a purpose. If you don’t understand that purpose, then you cannot teach a more appropriate behavior. If you don’t teach a more appropriate behavior, then chances are the child’s needs will go unmet and the child will either persist with the undesirable behavior or develop a new behavior to attempt to meet the need—i.e., to fulfill the function of the behavior.

All three of my boys are having a rough winter. All three boys have needed FBAs, but these FBAs were not all equal—meaning they didn’t all meet the definition of FBA at the first go.

I was already exhausted and stressed before the FBAs started. The process is stressful, which only adds to it. I’ve lost a lot of time to these combined stressors, and they’ve undoubtedly contributed to me successive illnesses and exhaustion. I’m trying to pull myself back together. Luckily, things seem to be getting back on track for me and for my children, at least to some extent.