Hi and welcome to “What Works Wednesdays” where we share a success story from one of our clinical cases. All names have been changed to preserve the privacy of the child and family. Our intent is to show readers how successful ABA can be.
We did not realize how many of our readers had an interest in Functional Behavioral Assessment (FBA) so we thought we would keep with the topic and share a success story regarding an FBA.
Several years ago, we were working closely with a mom and her son, Tommy, who was diagnosed with autism. While we originally started working with Tommy on toileting, we were eventually asked to complete an FBA for Tommy because engaged in challenging behaviors during the school day. School staff wanted to move Tommy from his part-time inclusive class to a full-time special education class. The reason behind the move? His behavior! However, instead of designing an intervention to help Tommy, school staff simply opted to move him to special education. Tommy’s mother was not satisfied with their request so she asked for an FBA and the school contracted with us to complete the assessment.
As is customary in an FBA, we started with a thorough record review. We also set up a time to interview Tommy’s mother and to assist her in completing some questionnaires related to his behavior. Following the interviews with Tommy’s mother, we arranged time to observe Tommy at school and to meet with his teachers. During the observations, we collected data on the events, activities, and situations around Tommy’s behavior. Most people refer to this as ABC data collection wherein the observer writes down what happens before the behaviors (antecedents or As), what types of behaviors were observed (behaviors or Bs) and the events that occurred following the behaviors (consequences or Cs).
We realized that a number of events often triggered Tommy’s behaviors. These included teacher instructions, independent seat work, or periods of time when Tommy was not receiving attention.
We also noticed that a number of consequences followed Tommy’s behaviors most of which included reprimands, teacher proximity, and teacher physical redirection. While we could have ended our assessment there, we decided to take a closer look at the setting where Tommy’s behaviors occurred.
That is when we realized what Tommy really needed. Here is the graph of Tommy’s data. Can you see our concern?
You are correct! Tommy’s behavior occurred MORE in special education than it did during inclusion. The school staff suggestion to move him to all special education would have exacerbated the situation. Luckily, the data in the assessment spoke volumes and Tommy was moved to the inclusion class for the entire day. That coupled with a brilliant Behavior Intervention Plan (BIP) solved the issues.
Tommy’s mother deserves a shout out here because she pushed the school team get the assessment completed. She challenged their thinking and she was right. Way to go.
Has your FBA helped lead to a better BIP or better outcome for your child? We want to hear.