A Functional Behavioral Assessment (FBA) is a methodology that integrates different types of techniques to establish the basis for problem behavior and to categorize possible mediations intended to address the issue. FBA does not only rely on the demonstrated behavior or symptoms. On the contrary, it focuses on other major factors that can lead to the problem, such as biological, environmental, or social influences. The goal for conducting an FBA includes identifying the purpose, benefits, and controls of the specific destructive behavior or methods to avoid the problems. Thus, FBA is a problem-solving procedure for students with behavioral problems. Children exhibit different forms of behaviors in response to many situations in their lives. Some of the reactions are difficult to understand, and require professional assistance. Therefore, FBA is an important tool to clarify and help the counselors and psychologists understand the deviant behavior of the child. A series of stages is conducted consecutively in order to achieve the necessary results. First, a description is given to the problem behaviors. Second, the stage of information gathering on the target behavior follows. The third step is categorization of the behavior. Next, the professional needs to develop a hypothesis regarding the behavioral patterns, and introduce interventions for the known problem.
Some of the techniques used in information gathering include observations, behavior evaluation forms, and interviews. Students, teachers, and daycare workers share observations and conclusions about behaviors, while medical reports give first-hand information. According to Steege and Watson, the major goal of the FBA report is to create an intervention plan for the known behavior based on the information gathered. The comprehensive FBA report includes assessment procedures, identification of the problem, and description of the child’s behaviors. In addition, it discusses the referral reasons, potential consequences, antecedents of the behavior, level of interference and the interventions to the problem.
Functional Behavior Assessment Report for Johnny
Johnny is a six-year-old boy. Johnny began his kindergarten in Harrison County at the age 5; he was frequency dismissed from the class due to his unconventional behavior. At the age of six, he was diagnosed with autism alongside other behavioral problems. He faces difficulties in developing communication skills and demonstrates self-injurious behavior that has recently increased in frequency and intensity.
Reasons for Referral
According to the parents, Johnny’s unusual behavior started at the age of 5. At the age of 6 he was diagnosed with autism. Currently, his communication skills are conspicuously deficient, and the boy further demonstrates a wide variety of problem behaviors. The biggest problem for him is the cases of self-injurious behavior that have increased in frequency and intensity in the last years. A recent self-hurting incident resulted in a need for an ER visit, which raised the serious concern. Johnny's more evident characteristics related to autism spectrum disorders are the cases of repetitiveness and ritualistic behavior patterns. In addition, he demonstrates an apparent need to collect a variety of specific tangible items, such as Hot Wheels cars and Legos. Johnny is referred to as a well-behaved boy only when the access to his collection items is free and frequent. Thus, Johnny might behave in the complicated way because of his autism condition. Moreover, autism spectrum disorders more often occur in boys compared to girls. An autistic disorder affects a child’s social interaction, verbal and non-verbal communication, behaviors, and interests.
The FBA was conducted through deriving conclusions from the basic information about Johnny collected from reports and social interactions. The major reason for referring Johnny is to clearly identify the problem meddling with Johnny’s academic, social, and personal life. Thus, the goal of FBA is to observe the frequency of the behavior, to identify the antecedent and consequences of the events, as well as variables influencing the occurrence of the behavior. Finally, it the assessment aims to formulate a hypothesis centered on the observations of the interfering behaviors and create intervention based on the given evidence.
Relevant Background Information
Johnny is the only child of Mr. and Mrs. White. They noted a weird behavior in their child at the age of 5 years. Johnny was diagnosed with autism, which is a mental condition that affects children in their childhood. The patients with disorder exhibit symptoms such as communication difficulties and failure to use abstract concept together with language. It is also challenging for the patient to begin and sustain relationships with other children leading to impaired social interaction.
Description of Evaluation Procedures
Several methods were used in Johnny’s indirect FBA section. The approaches included interview with the parents, discussion sessions with the faculty and the teachers, application of Antecedent Variables Assessment Form, Functional Behavioral Assessment Screening Form and Individual Variable Assessment Form. According to Johnny’s parents, the child’s communication problem began at the age of 4, whereby he isolated himself even from the neighboring children back at home. Using the information provided by the teachers, the conclusion was drawn that his self-injurious behavior increased in frequency and intensity gradually and that his conduct improved only when he had access to wheels cars and Legos.
Several methods were used in Johnny’s direct FBA section; they include Task Difficulty Analysis Form, Functional Behavioral Assessment Observation Form, also known as an observation form. The information collected through the observations and forms eased the identification of the events that occurred before and after the interfering behavior. It also helped defining his behavioral pattern in the different environments. Moreover, the assessments established the elements that made him comfortable, such as the wheels cars and Legos, as well as the collection of the variety specific tangible items made him comfortable. According to the Difficulty Analysis Form in the Johnny’s assessment, he did not have any difficulties in class work; only his communication skills were deficient as is the case for autism spectrum disorder.
The student and the assistant team provided the information that John had his own way of communication. He was not violent with other kids, and he had a couple of friends as well. However, if he did not consider a child to be a friend, he would often walk away and stay at the distance. With the few he considered to be friends he would share and exchange his toys as a sigh of playing. Johnny would not communicate verbally; instead, he would show non-verbally what he wants. The tendency to demonstrate self-injurious behavior often appeared as a result of Johnny being mad. If a teacher in class accused him of something while innocent, he got angry. At home, he often repeated the same behavior if his parents scold him without clear explanation of reasons.
An IRP was used in order to analyze the frequency of particular behavior at specified times. The main purpose of an IRP is to evaluate both the appropriate and interfering behavior, to identify correlations between different constructive and destructive conduct. IRP observation presented the following information. Communication was difficult since Johnny was born, but issues manifested at the age of 4; now he is 6 years old, and the problem is persistent. The self-injurious behavior increased and intensified daily as a response to various reactions from the people, such as scolding from his parents or teachers, beatings while he is innocent or threat from his age mates. The autism spectrum disorder was repetitive; every time he had a collection of tangible items, he was comfortable regardless of the place, environment, or time. A reinforcing element is the thing or an act that either decreases the interfering behavior or counteracts the destructive behavior of Johnny. While conducting a Reinforcer Preference Assessment, it was noted that the client preferred a variety of specific tangible items, such as wheel cars and Legos.
The formulation of a hypothesis is a crucial step to understand the functional relationship between variables and interfering behavior. When in school or at home, Johnny does not communicate at all. He has very few friends; in fact, the research discovered that he has only two friends. However, he may befriend other children when they have something he is interested in. In order to improve his communication skills and relationship with others, the following strategies should be used. Firstly, each child should have small toys of different kinds to attract Johnny’s attention. Secondly, the teaching environment should be altered occasionally from classroom to physical education where children spend time alone playing. Thirdly, Johnny should not be falsely accused or scalded, as he often develops self-injurious behavior in such situations. The student can harm himself in any way with objects surrounding him. In order to reduce the risk of the interfering behavior, the child’s nails should always remain short. Also, precautions should be introduced in every area of Johnny’s life. The teachers should never scold the student in school. They should always watch out for Johnny when he is playing with other children at school. Finally, the parents should never scold the child at home, and they should keep sharp objects far from the child.
Assessment Results in Interpretation
The assessment proves that Johnny’s communication skills have been challenged from his birth. However, the situation can be improved by providing every child with the basic toy that attracts Johnny’s attention and motivates him to interact with kids. Teachers should also be very friendly to Johnny without shouting. Thus, teachers, caregivers and parents show surround Johnny with motherly love. Teachers should be kind to the child at all times. If the child is wrong, the teachers should instruct him, show the right behavior, and give advice.
According to the assessment, Johnny exhibits self-injurious behavior as a coping mechanism with his anger, madness or disappointment, and as a reaction to external stimuli, such as a beating from anyone, scolding or punishment. Johnny would not show the self-destructive behavior if none of the above activities is done. Parents at home should keep sharp objects far from the child, as Johnny can harm himself with elements of everyday usage. The child should not be allowed in the kitchen or have access to instruments such as knives.
Assessment results suggest that repetitive and ritualistic behavioral patterns in autism spectrum disorder develop daily as the child grows because of other symptoms of the interfering behavior. Though the major symptoms of the disorder are inborn, the child develops the lack of social interest or language skills as the response to the environment. The autistic disorder is often stimulated by the lack of friends and people who understand the patient. The constructive behavior can be reinforced by the appreciation of patient’s comfort, for example availability of a variety of specific tangible items such as hot wheels and Legos in Johnny’s case. Parents and everybody in schools should be made to understand Johnny and the appropriate conduct when communicating with him.
The recommendations for improving Johnny’s condition include Replacement Behavioral approach. Thus, teachers should be interested in improving communication between them and the child. Fellow students should also be familiar with good behaviors around Johnny to avoid stressful situations. Preferred reinforcements should be put in place in order to control any urgent interfering behaviors. Finally, Johnny should be taught the appropriate behaviors in order to extinguish interfering conduct.
Antecedent recommendations include immediate provision of the reinforcement in case of any symptoms of interfering behavior. The strategy should improve the language abilities and the communication skills between the teachers and the child, both verbal and non-verbal. The parents should consider seeking assistance from professions, who can counsel on living with autistic children. The people Johnny should learn the child behaviors and interest in order to use the strategies for effective communication with the child as well know how to react to different circumstances. Reaction procedure recommendations from the professional should aim at extinguishing self-injurious behaviors and adapting autism spectrum disorder to the society. Thus, people linked to Johnny inside or outside the house should be equipped with information and training on how to communicate with him, as a continuous intervention and nonstop attendance to the child is a requirement for adaptation. Regular behavior consultations and monitoring of the progress is a part of the strategy. The behavior modifications should base on Intervention Recording Procedure, Functional Behavioral Assessment Observation Form, Reinforcer Preference Assessment and the focus groups with student assistance teams. The aforementioned strategies are important in order to evaluate the effectiveness of behavioral intervention and other plans.
An FBA is an important tool applied for clarification of strategies to understand more concerning the behavior of the child with autism. Children, who develop awkward behavioral changes from their childhood, should visit the doctor for a regular checkup to avoid remissions. Methods used to gather information about the patient include direct and indirect approaches such as interviews with parent and teachers, and professionals forms FBASF and FBAOF. It is important to formulate a hypothesis in order to understand the functional relationships between variables and decrease the interfering behavior. Interpretation of every outcome is important in order to evaluate the reinforcement of the positive behaviors. Using the gathered information, the recommendations aim to help improve the condition of the child and his life quality.