What is Functional Behavior Analysis?

A Functional Behavior Analysis, or FBA, is a requisite portion of a larger report known as a Behavior Intervention Plan, or BIP. Both of these written documents are created by mental health specialists or educators in order to provide information, guidance and treatment goals for dealing with problematic behavior of clients or students. School personnel are required to present these documents at a student’s Individual Education Plan (IEP) meeting if that student is displaying behaviors that interfere with the learning of his or her peers. Let’s take a look at the steps of writing an FBA and what kinds of information should be included.

Identify the Problematic Behavior

The very first thing the person writing the FBA needs to do is to precisely identify the problematic behavior that is causing the student academic or social impairment. Common esamples include inappropriate outbursts, calling out answers, physical aggression toward others, leaving seat during class time and self-injurious behavior. In order to present the behavioral issues in an objective manner, it is important to focus on the topography of a behavior, or what it looks like from the outside. Note the types of behaviors you observe such as crying for long periods when frustrated or refusing to participate in activity. Never say that a student is being overly-sensitive or disobedient, as these descriptions imply judgment.

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Collect Specific Data About the Behavior

It’s also important to describe the behaviors noticed by indicating specifics such as how often the behavior occurs, for how long, at what times of the day and other such particulars. Different types of behaviors will require different specifics and supplementary information. It’s imperative to be detailed in providing this information in order to increase the likelihood of positively identifying reasons or contributors to the unwanted behavior. The more you know about the problem, the better likely you are to be able to fix it.

Analyze the Data and Posit a Hypothesis

The next step in your Functional Behavior Analysis is to analyze all the information you’ve collected in order to come to a hypothesis, or best guess, as to why this problematic behavior is being displayed. For example, you may have a strong feeling, based on the evidence before you, that the student is exhibiting such issues due to a desire to gain attention, a suspected mental health or behavioral condition, problems in the home, avoiding a certain task or provocation by another student. You will also want to recommend possible interventions for curbing the behavior, based on your hypothesis.

Present Your Findings

At the IEP or other meeting, you will be able to share your findings and recommendations with key individuals related to the interests of the child. These may be teachers, counselors, parents and other school or agency personnel. This team of concerned adults can then act on the information to move forward with an agreed upon plan to best meet the needs of the student.

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This type of document can be quite essential to creating goals and solutions to assist students who display problematic behavior. A Functional Behavior Analysis is absolutely necessary if such behaviors are affecting the learning of the individual or of other students.