Posts Tagged ‘tantrums’

Hi and welcome to Ask Missy Mondays where I respond to a question from readers regarding a behavioral problem. Today’s question comes from a speech and language pathologist who works in a center for individuals with autism. The question is:

“The question I have is regarding a 3-year-old boy who has been diagnosed with autism. He started therapy with us and progressed very well. He is now able to follow commands. He imitates well and he is starting to vocalize single word utterances. He was able to focus for approximately 20 min with a reward and he really cooperated well. However, in the last 3 weeks, all of this positive behavior has changed. He now throws tantrums throughout the session. He bites if his needs are not met  and this is particularly if he does not get what he wants. We have tried rewards with the child but he cries and throws a tantrum for the reward if we only give him a part of it. In the session, we ignore the tantrums. It is unclear if the parents are ignoring the behavior at home or if they are giving in to the behaviors.”

Thank you so much for contacting me. Any time a child’s behavior changes suddenly, the adults should stop and ask “what has changed in his life”?

Any Changes in Home/School?

  • is he in a new classroom?
  • has his home environment changed?
  • has his feeding routine changed?
  • has a new therapy program been added/changed?

Any Medical Conditions or Medical Changes?

The other question to ask is about his medical condition. Medical conditions can impact behavior.

  • is the child constipated?
  • was he recently vaccinated?
  • was he recently sick?
  • is he teething?
  • is he tugging at his ear or are there signs of a sinus or infection?

Functional Behavioral Assessment

Once you have run through those questions, the next step is to complete an FBA. You have to document what is happening before and after the behavior to find out what might be causing the behavior or what might be maintaining the behavior. Typically, children use their tantrums to try to get things they like:

  • get attention
  • get favorite toy
  • get favorite activity
  • get favorite sensory

Sometimes, children use tantrums to avoid things they do not like:

  • avoid non-preferred person (e.g., therapist who makes me work)
  • avoid a non-preferred toy
  • avoid a non-preferred activity (e.g., work)
  • avoid sensory

Additionally, the child may engage in tantrums for any of the reasons combined (e.g., avoid work and then obtain favorite toy while on break).

Behavior Intervention Plan

Following a good assessment, then the team will need to develop a solid behavior intervention plan.

  • Staff and parents will learn how to prevent the behaviors
  • Staff and parents will learn how to teach replacement behaviors
  • Staff and parents will learn what to do after behaviors if they happen.
  • Staff and parents will learn how to reinforce the new replacement behaviors to that they continue to occur.

Please keep me posted on the outcome!

Thanks again for writing. Readers, if you have a behavioral question, email me at askmissy at applied behavioral strategies dot com.

I would appreciate any advice you can provide us in trying to help this child. As you might be aware services and facilities for children with autism are limited so any information you give us will be very useful.

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Take a look at our picture below. (Thanks go out to Bil Keane for this wonderful cartoon (c) 1976.) See if you can guess why PJ is tantrumming. When there is a reason for a behavior, behavior analysts called it a function or a purpose. This is the first time we have tried a poll so please participate! We will post the answer tomorrow! Thanks for playing.

Let's BEE Friends

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Here at Applied Behavioral Strategies, our mission is to improve the quality of life through effective intervention. One way we hope to do that is by reviewing research articles for our readers. The title of today’s article is State Special Education Laws for Functional Behavioral Assessment and Behavior Intervention Plans. Perry Zirkel authored the article and Behavioral Disorders published it in August, 2011 (Volume 36, number 4).


The author set out to analyze state laws regarding Functional Behavioral Assessments (FBA) and Behavior Intervention Plans (BIP). For background information related to federal requirements for FBAs and BIPs, read Dr. Zirkel’s introduction. He provides information regarding the law, regulations, and federal interpretations of the law.


The author searched  for state laws regarding FBAs and BIPs. Keep in mind, states may only add to federal legislation, not take away from requirements. Then he tabulated the information adding a “when”, “who”, “what”, and “how” column. Specifically, the “when” column identified if a state identified when the FBA and BIP were required. The “who” column indicated when a state identified the parties responsible for completing the FBA and developing the BIP. The “what” column indicated when a state defined the FBA and BIP. Finally, the “how” column identified when a state included information about how to complete an FBA and BIP.


Key finding #1. Thirty-one of the states have requirements regarding FBAs and BIPs.

Key finding #2. Twelve of the 31 states fail to identify both the “who” and the “when”.

Key finding #3. Zero of the 31 states require both an FBA and a BIP when a child’s behavior interferes with the child’s learning or that of others. May we note that this seems absurd to us? How can a BIP be developed without an FBA? And how could an FBA not result in a BIP? We are terribly saddened by this finding.

Key finding #4. Only 2 states provided information about how to complete both an FBA and BIP. Meanwhile 12 states provided some information about how to complete a BIP.

Key finding #5. Seventeen states define FBAs and BIPs with only 14 of the 17 mentioning “function” with regards to FBA.


As parents, teachers, behavior analysts, and/or advocates for children with behavioral challenges, we have a duty to make changes at the state level to ensure that students are protected with policies that will result in appropriate assessment and intervention. Protective policies regarding FBAs and BIPs will most likely prevent the use of scream rooms and other inappropriate behavior reduction techniques.

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We have been to a number of IEP meetings where the results of a Functional Behavioral Assessment (FBA) were presented. You won’t believe some of the things we have heard! Check out this list:

  1. Your child doesn’t need an FBA. FBAs are for children who have severe emotional problems.
  2. Here is our FBA form, let’s fill it out so we can write the Behavior Intervention Plan (BIP).
  3. You cannot ask for an independent FBA. An FBA is not an assessment.
  4. We finished your child’s FBA. The function of your child’s behavior is anxiety.
  5. We finished your child’s FBA. The function of your child’s behavior is control.
  6. We tried to do an FBA but your child does not have any behaviors.
  7. I don’t know how to graph your child’s functional analysis results. They didn’t teach me how to graph in school.
  8. We don’t need a behavior analyst to do the FBA. Our special education teacher took a class on behavior. She can do it.
  9. Why did your report say the child escaped? Our staff keep children within arm’s length at  all times.

And the number 1 craziest thing we have heard about FBAs:

10. We cannot do an FBA as part of the initial evaluation. We have to see how he behaves in special education first.

Please share! What crazy things have you been told about an FBA? Behavior analysts, what have you heard?

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Hi and welcome to Ask Missy Mondays where I respond to email questions from readers who have questions about behavior. Today’s question comes from Jillian and J.D. who ask,

“We have 2 children ages 2 and 4. They are driving us batty with their crying, whining, and tantrumming! Seriously, I cannot even get in the shower without one of them having a major meltdown. Please help us before we go crazy!”

I replied to Jillian and J.D. and said,

“I wish I could solve this problem for you but I do need a little bit more information. Tell me more about when these behaviors happen. You mentioned being in the shower. Can you tell me some other times these behaviors happen? Also, tell me how you react when your children engage in these behaviors. What do you say? How do you handle it?”

Jillian and J.D. wrote back almost immediately. They noted:

“The behaviors happen:

  • When Jillian is on the phone
  • When Jillian is cooking
  • When Jillian has a neighbor over
  • When Jillian is doing laundry

They also noted that when one of the kids whines to get something:

  • The child does not get what he wants
  • The child must ask using a “big boy” voice

Jillian and J.D. noted that when the children tantrum:

  • The child is first told “no!” so that they can learn not to do the behavior
  • After Jillian tells them no, she walks away unless someone is hitting
  • The child is put in 2 minute timeout for serious offenses (e.g., hitting brother)
  • When the child is calm, his needs are addressed

Now I have something I can work with! The first pattern that I noticed is that the behaviors seem to happen when mommy is busy (on the phone, cooking, laundry, etc). This means that the children have learned how to successfully divert mommy’s attention away from other important activities. I am certain that, as a mommy, you give your children ample high quality time (e.g., playing together, reading books together, etc). However, your children want even more of your time.

Antecedent Changes

Thus, before you begin one of your busy activities:

  1. Spend time playing with them
  2. Tell them that you are going to be busy for 15 minutes (or however much time you need–I recommend no longer than 30 minutes)
  3. Set the timer so they can have a clear signal when the activity is over
  4. When the activity is over, tell them they can have mommy time and praise them for letting you do your house work so that…..(e.g., we all can eat, or have clean clothes)
  5. If a child interrupts you during the work time, point to the timer but do not give any attention
  6. If a child tantrums, wines, or screams during the work time, do not “rush” in to save him

Consequence Changes

Once you have the antecedents taken care of, then you will need to change some of the ways that you respond to their behaviors.

  1. Refrain from stating “no!” after a behavior that has been reprimanded in the past. The children know they are not supposed to hit, scream, etc.
  2. Refrain from giving the child what he wants immediately after timeout
  3. When the child comes out of timeout, be sure to review what he did wrong and what he could do “next time”
  4. Remind your child that he cannot have X, Y, or Z because he _______ but that he can have it later
  5. If a child whines, remind him to use his big boy voice but do not give him what he wants right away. Set the timer for 2 minutes and when the timer goes off, he can ask using his big boy voice

I know this sounds like a lot and once you practice it a few times, you will get the hang of it. And not matter how much work it is, when those behaviors stops, it will be well-worth it. Please let us know how it goes!

If you have a question about behavior, email Missy at askmissy at appliedbehavioralstrategies dot com.

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One of our goals for improving the quality of lives through effective intervention is to share with our readers research on effective treatments. We do this by summarizing peer-reviewed research articles. Yesterday, in response to our post on Scream Rooms (also known as Time Out Rooms), a twitter follower asked, “what else can teachers do?” Thus, it seems appropriate that we should review a study that demonstrates one effective alternative to time out.

Mark Durand and Ted Carr authored the article in 1992. The Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis published the article and you may read it yourself here.

Study Purposes

The purpose of the study was to determine which of two interventions would be effective at reducing attention-maintained challenging behavior (when children act out in order to get reactions from their teachers).

The authors also set out to determine which effects of the two interventions would generalize to untrained teachers. For example, a teacher could implement a behavior plan in her class but when the substitute teacher is present, he may not implement the intervention. If the child’s good behavior happens with the trained teacher and with the new/untrained teacher, it is said to generalize. If the child’s good behavior does not happen with the new/untrained teacher, the effects failed to generalize. Obviously, teachers would want interventions that work with them as well as with their substitutes.


Twelve children participated in the study. Children ranged in ages between 3.5 years and 5 years of age.  The children were diagnosed with a variety of conditions including attention deficit disorder, language delay, autism, or developmental delay. The children engaged in a variety of inappropriate behaviors including aggression, opposition, tantrums, and property destruction. Six children were assigned to one treatment group and six children were assigned to the other treatment group.


The authors completed a functional behavioral assessment (FBA) for all 12 students. As part of the FBA, the authors completed a functional analysis to demonstrate that all 12 children engaged in various challenging behaviors in order to gain attention from their teachers (The authors referred to this as Study 1). This type of behavior is known as attention-maintained behavior.


Before treatment, the researchers observed children during regular school work activities. The work was considered easy work but the teachers did not provide a high rate of attention for appropriate behaviors.


The researchers compared the results of two interventions. (The authors called this Study 2). One intervention was time out. We discussed time out and its variations here yesterday. The second intervention the authors studied was called Functional Communication Training (FCT). You may read more about it here (You will find other evidence-based strategies on that website if you are interested). FCT has a substantial research base to support its use. With FCT, teachers simply teach children to communicate instead of acting out to get what they want. Often we teach children to talk but sometimes we teach children to use pictures to communicate if they cannot speak very well.

In this study, teachers implemented time out by simply removing all instructional materials and turning their backs to the children for 10 seconds each time the child engaged in challenging behavior.

During FCT, teachers taught the children to ask for teacher attention by saying things like, “Am I doing good work?”

Once the researchers demonstrated that the intervention was working, a new/substitute teacher was brought in to see if the intervention effects would generalize. (The authors called this Study 3).


Time out effectively reduced the rates of challenging behavior for all 6 children in the treatment group. Similarly, FCT effectively reduced the rates of challenging behavior for all 6 children in the treatment group.

However, when the new teacher worked with the children, the results were remarkably different. Specifically, children who received the time out intervention, failed to generalize their good behavior to the new teacher. Essentially, their challenging behavior returned to pre-treatment levels with the new teacher.

On the other hand, children in the FCT group, generalized their good behavior to the new teacher. Not only did they maintain good behavior, they used their new communication with the new teacher.

Thus, while brief time out from teacher attention may be effective at reducing attention-maintained behavior, the improved behavior will not generalize to new, untrained teachers. However, FCT teaches children to use communication instead of challenging behavior. This results in improved behavior and the improvement carries over to new, untrained teachers.

So, if you find yourself wondering what to do instead of time out, try teaching the child to communicate instead of acting out.

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Now we have proof that children engage in tantrums in order to gain attention from their parents! Have you fallen for this type of trick?

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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.

Today’s case is about a little girl named Bailey. Bailey was 7 at the time we served her. She was a petite and very quiet. She was also diagnosed with autism. Bailey enjoyed visual stimulation. She had her favorite pompom present at every meal. She also enjoyed watching movies like Toy Story and Finding Nemo.

Scheduling therapy sessions for Bailey was a bit complicated because of our schedule and her mom’s work schedule but we managed to make it happen. We started therapy on a Friday and her mom kept her home from school. Her teacher and BCBA from the school attended the breakfast session so they would be able to support Bailey when she returned to school the following week. Her ABA therapist also attended several sessions in order to fully support Bailey when intensive therapy was completed.

Picky Eating

Prior to therapy, Bailey ate few foods. Like most children with autism, she preferred the white and crunchy diet. She also liked to have ice cream. Bailey was also a grazer. She preferred to eat small snacks throughout the day without actually ever sitting for a meal. As if this wasn’t bad enough, her family had never enjoyed a family meal in a restaurant due to her challenging behaviors and restricted eating.

Day 1: Lots of Behaviors

For breakfast on the first day, we had pancakes, grapes, carrots. Bacon was a highly preferred food so we made it available as a reinforcer for her. Right from the beginning, Bailey was willing to chew and swallow new food! This is unusual as most of our children are so frightened of new food that initially, they will only agree to lick it or touch it to their tongues. So Bailey at the tiny bite of pancake and chased it with bacon. Next we offered a tiny bite of grape. Again, she ate it and received a bit of bacon. This was followed by carrot. Again, we had success! On the very first session of therapy, Bailey ate 26 bites of food! Don’t get us wrong. It wasn’t a party. Sweet little quiet Bailey, screamed, cried, aggressed towards us, and engaged in self-injurious behavior (hitting herself). She also tried to elope from the table but we just asked her to come back and she did. We did not allow her to use any of those behaviors to get out of trying the new foods.

After we left, Bailey’s mom reported that she asked for her preferred foods. She told Bailey to wait until lunch. We came back a couple of hours later offered chicken, hot dog, more carrots, and bananas. We used bacon as the reinforcer again. Bailey chewed and swallowed 38 bites of food. Bailey’s challenging behaviors were much better during this session. She only engaged in a few instances of crying and elopement.

For dinner, Bailey ate sweet potato, mushrooms, pork, and potato. We used a KBar as a reinforcer. This session was a little harder because Bailey was not as hungry. She only swallowed a couple of bites of new foods. She also engaged in a new behavior: gagging! She had approximately 50 gags and she also expelled food many times. Her screaming increased as did her elopement.

Day 2: Improvement

We returned the following day and started all over again. For breakfast we offered watermelon, banana, waffle, and sausage. We continued to use bacon as a reinforcer following really non-preferred foods. Bailey swallowed 23 bites of food. She continued to engage in a lot of screaming, particularly around the sausage. however, her aggression, gagging, and expelling were much better.

Lunch was another improvement. We offered orange, pizza (yes, some children dislike pizza!), mashed potatoes, avocado, and a muffin. Bailey ate 37 bites of food! While she was a little “fussy” the screaming was gone and she only expelled 2 bites.

We continued to see more success at dinner. We started the therapy session and then mom moved in to the driver’s seat after the first few bites. We usually see an increase in behaviors when the parents take over and this was true for Bailey as well. Her mom Bailey tried to run away and she screamed. She also started packing (holding) the food in her mouth. Silly girl! She didn’t realize that mom was in on it too! Mom held her ground and eventually Bailey ate for her as well. She ate pound cake, strawberries, cucumbers, and chicken parmesan. Bailey ate 27 bites!

Day 3: Discharge!

The next day mom supervised breakfast of egg, english muffin, ham, and cantaloupe. Bailey ate 25 bites of food but her behaviors were testy. She cried, fussed, and even threw a bite of food. Mom stood firm and eventually, the behaviors ceased.

Lunch was great as well. Bailey ate macaroni and cheese, grilled cheese, peas, and raspberries. For those of you who have not experienced picky eating, it may surprise you to know that children with autism and picky eating may avoid even the most preferred foods! Bailey ate 52 bites! She engaged in some fussy behavior but the screaming and aggression were gone.

For dinner, we all went out to a restaurant to celebrate. Bailey’s mom, dad, brother, and I all sat down together. Bailey ordered nachos with chili, broccoli, baked ziti, and french fries. It was a sight to see. Bailey ate 45 bites of food and she engaged in zero problem behaviors.

The next day, Bailey’s mom wrote to let me know that she ate some banana, a slice of bread with cream cheese, and her favorite bacon. There were no behaviors and she was off to school. School staff continued to support her good eating habits and Bailey has flourished. Bailey still needs encouragement to eat new foods. However, her mom has now learned how to successfully support her in trying and learning to like new foods. Intensive intervention is the boot camp that gets kids over the hump. The parents and teachers must continue to support the therapy after we are gone.

Follow Up

Seven months after therapy, Bailey’s mom wrote to us to let us know that Bailey had gained 7 pounds. Amazing! Congratulations to Bailey and her family. Your hard work has paid off.

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Hi and welcome to Ask Missy Mondays where I respond to email questions from readers who have questions about behavior. Today’s question comes from Tracy, who asks:

“My child is having his first ABA Assessment soon, what questions should I ask? What should I expect?”

Tracy, thanks for asking! You have been an amazing help to me on Twitter so helping you in this way is the least I could do. You have definitely opened a can of worms with this question but hopefully I can give you some insight.


Your first question to the provider should be, “Do you believe in and work towards recovery from autism?” I realize that this question may offend some readers with autism. Please understand that I would never suggest that any individual who is capable of self-advocating be treated without consent. However, for young children, we know that the symptoms of autism can be successfully treated so that the child can go on to function in school without special education. The child can go on to function in adulthood without supports. The recovery rate is not high (around 48% of treated children). However, even if children do not fully recover, early intervention can lead to great improvements in IQ, adaptive behavior, and communication. “Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss it, you will land among the stars.” -Les Brown.

Reinforcement and Punishment

The second question you should ask is, “What is your philosophy on reinforcement and punishment?” A good ABA team will use a variety of reinforcers to help your child learn. Over reliance on edible reinforcers can be problematic. We have written a little bit about reinforcement here. Check it out. Preference Assessments are a must. Read about them here.

A good ABA team should deflect the question on punishment and talk more specifically about using reinforcement to address challenging behavior. Do not get me wrong. Punishment strategies are important and warranted in many cases. However, in a comprehensive ABA program, the team should be modifying antecedents to prevent challenging behavior, teaching replacement behaviors for challenging behavior, and severing the association between reinforcement and challenging behavior. New, appropriate behaviors should be reinforced and challenging behaviors should not be reinforced.


The third question you should ask is, “What curriculum do you use?” My favorite response to this question is “We use a variety of resources to determine what to teach your child.” Any agency who relies on one tool to drive their programming for your is setting your child up for failure. Your child with autism needs a comprehensive program to address all areas of development including receptive and expressive communication, fine and gross motor, social and emotional skills, pre-academic and academic skills. As your child ages, other skills such as pragmatics, perspective taking, and theory of mind skills will be important.

An exception here is the SKILLS assessment and curriculum. Having worked for CARD for several years, I know that the SKILLS curriculum was developed using multiple resources. CARD also completed several research studies on reliability and validity of the measure. While the curriculum may appear to be one tool, it is actually quite comprehensive.


The fourth question you should ask is, “What is your philosophy on inclusion?” The research on ABA (and on inclusion) supports that children should be educated alongside their typically developing peers as soon as possible. Depending on the severity of your child’s autism, he/she may need initial instruction in a very small, distraction-free environment. Once your child learns how to learn, he/she will be transitioned to a larger room with distractions. Once your child is able to imitate and learn from watching others, he/she needs to start regularly scheduled play dates to practice skills with other children. Finally, your child should be transitioned to a preschool with support. The support should be systematically faded until your child is functioning in general education with no supports.


Finally, your last question should be, “What is your philosophy about assessment?” This is a loaded question but their response will be informative. We have written a little bit about assessment here. The bottom line is that an agency should either refer you to or assist you with a variety of assessments. Obviously, the first is the diagnostic assessment where your child received the autism label. After that, a comprehensive developmental assessment is needed so that your child’s current level of functioning is assessed compared to his/her peers. This assessment should be norm-referenced and it should occur about once per year so that you will see how your child is progressing.

The agency should complete informal preference assessments daily. This will help them better understand how to motivate your child to work. Formal preference assessments may also be needed initially and periodically throughout your child’s program.

The agency should collect on-going data to monitor your child’s progress towards his/her learning objectives. The data should be collected by each therapist for every therapy session. Data should be graphed following each therapy session. The graphs should be examined to ensure that your child is making adequate progress. Changes should be made to your child’s program if he/she is not making adequate progress.

Supervision and Clinical Team Meetings

Your child’s program should be supervised by a BCBA with extensive training and experience in autism. The supervisor should oversee and train all the therapists on your child’s team. The supervisor should hold clinical team meetings at least twice per month and those meetings should include every therapist and both parents. When possible, related therapy providers (SLP, OT, PT), and school staff should be invited to attend.

The supervisor should also conduct visits of your child during regularly scheduled therapy sessions to ensure that the program is being implemented as planned.

I realize that this was a long-winded answer. Hopefully, it will help you prepare for your meeting! I hope it goes well. We can also schedule some Skype time if you want to talk more.

Readers, if you have a question that you need help with, email me at askmissy at appliedbehavioralstrategies dot com.


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We realized after we posted yesterday regarding the necessity of parent permission for a Functional Behavioral Assessment (FBA), that several of you were in the dark about the definition of an FBA as well as what makes a good FBA.

So, we thought we should provide our readers with a simple overview. Please keep in mind that one daily blog post on FBA is insufficient for a topic so broad and important.

What is a Functional Behavioral Assessment (FBA)?

We will provide two definitions of the FBA. The first is from the Behavior Analyst Certification Board, the entity responsible for certifying behavior analysts also known as BCBA and BCaBA. Under the conduct guidelines, FBA is defined as:

Functional assessment includes a variety of systematic information-gathering activities regarding factors influencing the occurrence of a behavior (e.g., antecedents, consequences, setting events, or motivating operations) including interview, direct observation, and experimental analysis.

The second definition is from the Technical Assistance Center on Social and Emotional Development. They define FBA as:

“Functional Behavioral Assessment involves the collection of data, observations, and information to develop a clear understanding of the relationship of events and circumstances that trigger and maintain problem behavior.”

What Makes a Good FBA?

To answer this question, let us look more closely at the definition of FBA as both entities define the FBA by the actual components of the assessment. Let’s take a closer look:

  1. Data. Both describe the data collection or systematic information gathering as one component of an FBA. Thus, a good FBA is comprised of data. Typically, behavior analysts will include graphs of data so that readers will have a clear picture regarding the behavior.
  2. Influential factors. Both definitions include the importance of finding factors, events, or circumstances associated with the behavior. Thus, a good FBA will include a list of events, activities, situations, people, or materials that are associated with the behavior.
  3. Observation. Both definitions specifically list observation as an activity within the FBA process. Thus, a good FBA will include observations of the student’s behaviors. While the IEP team will discuss the findings of the FBA during a team meeting, the FBA is not actually conducted during the IEP meeting as direct observations of student behavior should occur during home, community, and school situations where the behavior occurs.
  4. Behavior Triggers. Both definitions describe how antecedents or events and circumstances trigger behavior. A good FBA will include detailed descriptions of events that set off the behavior or precede the behavior.
  5. Reinforcement for Behaviors. Both definitions describe the consequences that reinforce or maintain the challenging behavior. Thus, a good FBA specifically identifies events, items, and activities that maintain or reinforce the challenging behavior. Most assessments will identify this as the “function” of behavior.

What Are the Functions (or Reinforcers) for Challenging Behavior?

As part of the FBA, the assessor will identify the items, events, and activities that are responsible for maintaining the behavior. Most assessors agree that behavior occurs for 8 different reasons or any combination of the 8 reasons.

  1. Obtain access to a preferred item
  2. Obtain access to a preferred activity
  3. Obtain access to attention
  4. Obtain access to sensory reinforcement or non-social reinforcement or automatic reinforcement
  5. Avoid a non-preferred item
  6. Avoid a non-preferred activity
  7. Avoid attention
  8. Avoid sensory or non-social reinforcement or automatic reinforcement

Combinations of these 8 functions may occur in any way. For example, a student may escape a non-preferred activity (calendar time) to obtain access to attention (being held in time out in the corner). Another student may engage in hand flapping (often assumed to be sensory seeking) as a way of avoiding a non-preferred interaction with the teacher. We could go on and on with combinations.

In summary, if your child receives an FBA as part of his or her program, be sure to read the final report to ensure that: data were presented within the document, observations were completed as part of the assessment, influential factors were identified and described, behavior triggers were listed, and an appropriate function or functions of the challenging behavior were provided.

We want to know, has your child received an FBA from the school? Did it include the items we have identified? Did you provide consent for the assessment in writing? Please share!

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