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Functional Behavioral Assessment (FBA) in Northern New Jersey

Children who exhibit inappropriate behaviors sometimes do so because of underlying conditions that must be treated if those behaviors are to improve. Psycho-Educational Associates is a leading provider of Functional Behavioral Assessments to help address behavioral problems among New Jersey school-age children.

What is a Functional Behavioral Assessment?

The Functional Behavioral Assessment (FBA) is based on a set of procedures that was first created to determine the reason for behaviors commonly displayed by individuals with cognitive disabilities such as autism. Since these individuals could not express why they displayed inappropriate behaviors, it was necessary to develop methods that could determine the reason for them.

The procedures used to investigate these behaviors were known as “functional behavioral analysis”, and were derived mostly from methods of applied behavior analysis. Analysts could decipher the meaning of concerning behaviors by conducting experiments and gathering data to evaluate how environmental variables affected them. This data could then be used to understand what was being communicated and find out why the behavior was occurring. Using this information, programs could then be developed to assist a disabled individual in learning how to display behavior that is more acceptable.

The Foundation for Functional Behavioral Assessment

Certain behaviors displayed by students with disabilities are sometimes viewed as being “inappropriate.” In many cases, these behaviors are the reason why the student was placed in special education services in the first place. This is often the case regarding students labeled with an “emotional disturbance”, which is one of the 12 categories of disability in special education. Even so, students who have other impairments aside from emotional disturbances may also exhibit aberrant behaviors such as refusing to attempt work or responding angrily out of frustration; attention-seeking behaviors may also occur.

According to the guidelines established by IDEA, educators are required to initiate and complete the functional behavioral assessment process any time they have a concern regarding the behavior exhibited by a student with a disability. That way, they can identify a possible reason why the student is demonstrating such actions. Once they have determined the purpose behind aberrant behavior, the educators and staff can develop interventions that will help the student learn acceptable behavior.

Educators are required to conduct an FBA in response to ongoing behavioral concerns. They are also required by law to conduct an FBA within 10 days after a student with a disability commits an offense that is punishable by either in-school or off-campus suspension, or removal to an Interim Alternative Educational Setting (IAES).

Benefits Provided by a Functional Behavior Assessment

An FBA is conducted to determine the underlying reasons for a behavior. That way, preventative strategies can be devised that will prevent that behavior from reoccurring. States that have taken a proactive approach toward behavioral intervention conduct FBAs regularly to identify all children who are in need of special services instead of focusing only on those who violate school codes.

Functional Behavioral Assessments help educators do the following:

  • Assess the appropriateness of a student’s current educational placement and the services they receive
  • Provide feedback regarding changes that might improve a student’s behavior
  • Identify ways to reduce undesirable behavior through the use of positive interventions
  • Identify appropriate substitute behaviors to replace inappropriate actions with
  • Assess the current placement and services for appropriateness

Functional Behavior Assessments are based on the Following Assumptions:

  • There is always a reason for challenging behaviors
  • A behavior occurs in response to a stimuli or event that can be identified
  • Consequences that follow a behavior govern future behaviors
  • A student’s behavior is a method of communication, and it is the educator’s responsibility to find out what a student is attempting to communicate through his or her behavior
  • A student’s misbehavior may be an understandable and justifiable adaptive response to specific circumstances.
  • All behaviors serve a purpose, and a person will stop a certain behavior if he or she no longer receives the benefits.
  • Behaviors are meant to either provide something desirable such as attention or good grades or are meant to help escape something that is unpleasant such as embarrassment or fear.

If you believe there is an underlying reason for your child’s inappropriate behavior, contact us. Here at Psycho-Educational Associates, we have experienced, caring professionals standing by ready to assist you with Functional Behavioral Assessments and a variety of other services.