Hi and welcome to Ask Missy Mondays where I take questions from readers. Today’s question comes from Judy who writes,
“Hi Dr. Olive, my child’s school BCBA recently completed a Functional Behavior Assessment (FBA) for my child. The report seemed to be very detailed. However, I disagreed with the report because the BCBA did not include an assessment of my son’s scripting. The BCBA did not interview me as part of the FBA because it was a “school FBA”. I told the school that I wanted an Independent Educational Evaluation (IEE)/FBA at the school expense. Now they are telling me that they don’t have to give me an IEE because they think their FBA is good enough. Do I have any options?“
Hi Judy, and thanks for writing. This is a great question and so very similar to some of the things I’ve seen happening in recent months. For example, one of my relatives requested an IEE for their child’s initial evaluation and the district filed due process against them! You can imagine how scary it is to be told that your school district is filing AGAINST you!
I have a couple of points to address regarding your question. For my readers who are lost with all this terminology, you may read about an FBA here, learn about what to expect from an FBA here, and finally, learn the difference between an FBA and a functional analysis here.
Right to an IEE
First, if your child has an IEP, you have the right to request an IEE as long as the school completed their FBA within the past 12 months and you disagree with it. You don’t have to say why you disagree; just merely indicate you disagree.
The school does have a right to refuse the IEE by stating that their FBA is appropriate. At that point, you would have to file due process against them. I don’t recommend taking that step unless you have legal representation. Should you file due process against the school, you will need to prove why their FBA is insufficient.
I have heard of 3 different cases in Connecticut (I’m sure there are more) where the school refused to provide the IEE and so the family proceeded with a due process. In all 3 cases, the school district settled the case after the family spent precious time and resources gathering data, experts, and attorneys.
Parent Involvement in the FBA
My second point to your question is that the BCBA has a duty to involve you, the parent in the FBA. The reasons for this are twofold. First, the BACB Guidelines for Responsible Conduct require written parent permission to assess (see Guideline #3). Second, the BACB Guideline #4 requires client or guardian involvement during individual behavior change program planning.
“The behavior analyst (a) designs programs that are based on behavior analytic principles, including assessments of effects of other intervention methods, (b) involves the client or the client-surrogate in the planning of such programs, (c) obtains the consent of the client, and (d) respects the right of the client to terminate services at any time.”
If the parent disagrees with the FBA, how could the parent possibly be involved in the planning of the program? The BCBA should minimally involve the parent/guardian throughout the FBA and the BIP.
Research on Family Involvement
My third point to your question is to highlight the research on the importance of family involvement during the assessment and intervention process. For starters, including families in the process will serve to help educate parents on the assessment and intervention process. This education may then go on to reduce parenting stress (c.f., Bristol, et al., 1993; Gallagher, 1991; and Koegel et al., 1996). Second, professionals should be conducting assessments and development interventions utilizing a multicultural lens (c.f., Harris, 1996; Heller et al., 1994). Without parent involvement, cultural competence cannot be achieved.
In summary, if your child’s BCBA, behaviorist, behavior specialist, or similar completes an FBA on your child and you disagree with it, be sure to ask your team for an independent educational evaluation (IEE).
Bristol, M.M., J.J.Gallagher, and K.D.Holt 1993 Maternal depressive symptoms in autism: Response to psycho-educational intervention. Rehabilitation Psychology 38:3–9.
Gallagher, J.J. 1991 The family as a focus for intervention. In Handbook of Early Childhood Interventions, S.Meisels and J.Shonkoff, eds. Cambridge MA: Cambridge University Press.
Harris, S.L. 1983 Families of the Developmentally Disabled: A Guide to Behavioral Intervention. Elmsford, NY: Pergamon Press.
Heller, T., R.Markwardt, L.Rowitz, and B.Farber 1994 Adaptation of Hispanic families to a member with mental retardation. American Journal on Mental Retardation 99:289–300.
Koegel, R.L., A.Bimbela, and L.Schreibman 1996 Collateral effects of parent training on family interactions. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders 26:347–359.