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Functional Behavior Assessment

Functional Behavior Assessment

The Problem

The Applied Behavior Analyst (ABA) is called to task to handle a case of a grade three male student who is said to have problem behavior. The interest of the staff and other board members is for the ABA to develop a behavior intervention plan for the team. To have an intervention plan that can work excellently for the learner, it is essential to begin by having a deeper understanding of the problem (Cooper, Heron & Heward, 2019). The child with the behavior problem is a male learner called Abel. Abel, aged nine years, is new in this local elementary school. The parents have moved to this new state because the father was promoted to take over as the head of the company’s new branch in this state. The process of transition from one region to another has been hectic. It was challenging to tell Abel he had to leave his former school. Moreover, having him settle in his former school was very difficult, as reported by his parents. The first time he went to school, he demonstrated disruptive behavior, which took several weeks of intervention to change.

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When in a new environment where he dislikes, Abel demonstrates problem behaviors in a new environment that he dislikes. His problem behavior comes in the form of disruption in class and other settings within the school. The disruption is demonstrated in the following ways: in the classroom, Abel likes moving about from one desk to another without any apparent reason (Shepherd & Linn, 2015). Sometimes Abel throws papers at his classmates who listen attentively or pokes them with his pencil. Like other learners, Abel is not willing to wait in the queue during lunch break. These disruptions are aggressive because he throws things at his classmates, listening attentively. This target behavior also shows noncompliance because Abel is unwilling to do the right thing. For instance, he will choose not to queue and wait for lunch like the other learners.

Functional Behavior Assessment

Functional behavior assessment (FBA) is an approach used by applied behavior analysts to get information on a target behavior of concern displayed by a child. The behaviors can be emotional, academic, or social. Therefore, FBA is an approach that helps people understand the reasons behind a given behavior (Steege et al., 2019). The FBA also allows the analyst to determine the proper intervention to help the child out of the behavior and acquire the appropriate behavior. Also, the staff must understand that children’s behavior problems sometimes are noticeable or unnoticeable to them.

It is essential to understand that behaviors are catalyzed by many things within the child or the child’s environment. Therefore, when a child has an unwanted behavior, it is essential to begin by understanding the genesis of the behavior. The only way to examine the origin of the behavior is by conducting a functional behavior assessment. This is one of the reasons why it is crucial, to begin with conducting a functional behavior assessment. Steege et al. (2019) have explained that the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) demands that a behavior assessment be conducted because many factors cause behavior in children. Therefore, it is a requirement by IDEA that FBA should be performed since it is the only way of knowing the reasons behind a given behavior so that the proper intervention is implemented. Sometimes behaviors can come as a result of disability. The FBA is needed to help guide the analysts when developing a plan to change the behavior. Therefore, in Abel’s case, an FBA will be the beginning of the entire process so that the real cause of the behavior problem is identified.

Antecedent Stimuli and Consequence

Antecedent stimuli is the event that takes place before a behavior is manifested. In this case, the behavior displayed before the behavior is the movement from one school to another. Antecedent stimuli are significant since they will help the behavior analyst identify the genesis of the behavior issue (Padilla, 2020). The description of the problem also revealed that Abel had difficulties adjusting to the school environment, and at that time, he also exhibited behavior problems. The same trend is manifested now that Abel has changed schools. In his background story, it is also revealed that he was unhappy when told that he had to switch to another school. It is, therefore, essential to know that these antecedents could be the primary reason Abel demonstrates the problem behaviors. Conversely, consequences are the events that come after a behavior. In the case of Abel, the analyst will examine some of the consequences of his behavior even though Steege et al. (2019) clarify that such disruptive behavior leads to poor performance and endangers other children.

In this case, the transition from one school to another is motivating operations at work. It is important to note that motivating operations makes someone want or not want something. Therefore, transferring to another school and being in a new school environment can be considered a motivating operation because it makes Abel show problem behavior (Kieta et al., 2019). On the other hand, the discriminative stimuli are the new staff and learners who make it easier for Abel to show problem behavior. The fact that in the new environment, Abel is not known, and it is difficult for him to adjust quickly to the people and environment. This condition creates room for Abel to show aggression and noncompliance.

Consequence Stimuli and Conditions

Understanding the consequence stimuli and conditions can help identify the proper punishment and reward during the intervention. In this case, the response stimuli could be that when Abel shows his problem behavior, he is left alone or sent home. This consequence stimulus helps Abel escape the reality of adjusting to the new school environment, making new friends, and doing assignments as required (Miltenberger, 2015). The conditions prevailing when Abel engages are noncompliance, and aggression makes it easier for him to do so. When the teacher is still unfamiliar with Abel’s behavior and is unaware of how to handle him, he is sent out of class or at home, making it easier for him to manifest these behaviors. Therefore, when such behaviors are showing due to the prevailing conditions, Miltenberger (2015) states that such behavior can be changed using reinforcements. Positive reinforcement can help Abel behave as required. In other words, if Abel is rewarded for cooperating and not being aggressive, he is expected to repeat the same. Negative reinforcement, however, helps stop the behavior if Abel is punished. It is also important to take note of automatic reinforcement, which is defined by Miltenberger (2015) as the behavior that creates a favorable outcome without the influence of another person. As such, it is also important to note that the intervention plan should help Abel see the benefits of complying as manifested by positive automatic reinforcement. For instance, Abel will find that he becomes lovable, and school life becomes easier and more enjoyable.

Indirect Assessment Procedures

I may implement several indirect procedures during the functional behavioral assessment process, including Behavior Rating Scales, behavior-analytic problem-solving interviews, and Behavioral Stream Interviews (BSI). Firstly, the analysis of rating scale results is a behavior assessment method that relies on several methods like interviews and self-reporting to have quantifiable data on behavior (Padilla, 2020). The quantifiable data is more objective and reliable.

Secondly, Behavior-Analytic Problem-Solving Interview (BAPS-I is a behavior assessment method that is very comprehensive in the analysis of behaviors. It is also beneficial in examining the complex variables that encourage a behavior (Padilla, 2020). This behavior assessment will help identify the factors causing Abel to behave this way in this specific scenario.

Behavioral Stream Interview (BSI) is another behavior assessment tool and is best used to find the sequence of antecedents and consequences concerning a behavior (Padilla, 2020). This particular scenario will determine the pattern of variables that lead to the target behavior.

Direct Descriptive Assessment Procedures

The three direct descriptive assessment procedures that may be implemented during the process of the functional behavioral assessment include the Task Difficulty Antecedent Analysis Form (TDAAF), the Conditional Probability Record (CPR), and the Interval Recording Procedures (IRP). Task Difficulty Antecedent Analysis Form (TDAAF) is an assessment tool used to determine the complex tasks that a learner encounters and the intensity of the task. In this scenario, the method will be used to assess whether Abel has difficulty in specific tasks like making friends, adjusting to the new routines in the new school, and other complex tasks, which may be the reasons why he is reacting through problem behavior (Miltenberger, 2015). Therefore, the analyst will know the condition that triggers the

In a general learning institution, the gifted population of students may manifest problem behaviors due to various conditions, including their task difficulty level (Crone & Horner, 2003). This procedure is relevant because it establishes the condition under which the client engages in the problem behavior. The ability of a client to handle the task may prompt him to seek help. If the adaptive ways of seeking help are not taught, the problem behaviors will be manifested to increase his chances of getting help.

Another tool is the Conditional Probability Record (CPR). CPR is a procedure used to determine the likelihood of a target behavior manifested after an event and the consequences of the target behavior. First, the analyst selects a specific target behavior and consequence to be observed. A follow-up should be done to view and record the time interval between the chosen event and its outcome. In the case of Abel, the analyst will target a behavior like aggression and then examine the environment or event causing aggression, the interval between the event and the aggression, and then the outcome.

The last tool is the Interval Recording Procedure (IRP). This direct tool gives a connection between the target behavior, antecedent, and consequences (Padilla, 2020). This tool will be used in this case to help the analyst know the connection between these two and use it to understand the best intervention. According to Kieta, Cihon, and Abdel-Jalil (2019), IRP describes the inter-relationship between problem behavior, antecedent, and consequence. It also tells the specific duration of each of them. In the case of Abel, it will be used to help know the time of target behavior.

Ethical Concerns

The first ethical concern would be collecting data and making proper use of data. Since this is a first case, the analyst has to collect data. The data should be collected, recorded, and used correctly to avoid any misuse, which may be unethical. The second ethical concern to watch out for in this scenario is adequate communication with the relevant stakeholders. The analyst should communicate adequately with the parents and the staff to avoid any miscommunication. Communication as an ethical concern demands clarity from the analyst when giving information to these stakeholders.


Cooper, O. J., Heron, T. E., & Heward, W. L. (2019). Applied Behavior Analysis Edition: 3rd. Publisher: Pearson

Kieta, A., Cihon, T. M, & Abdel-Jalil, A. (2019) Problem Solving from a Behavioral Perspective: Implications for Behavior Analysts and Educators. Journal of Behavioral Education 28(10).

Miltenberger, R. G. (2015). Behavior Modification: Principles and Procedures (6th Edition). Cengage Limited.

Padilla, K. L. (2020). Global Assessment Use and Practices in Applied Behavior Analysis: Surveying the Field. Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders 79:101676

Shepherd, T. L., & Linn, D. (2015). Behavior and Classroom Management in the Multicultural Classroom: Proactive, Active, and Reactive Strategies. SAGE Publications, Inc. (US).

Steege, M.W., Pratt, J.L., Wickerd, G., Guare, R., & Watson, T.S. (2019). Conducting School-Based Functional Behavioral Assessments, Third Edition: A Practitioners Guide. Guilford Press.


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As a practicing independent Behavior Analyst, you have received an email from a staff member representing a provider of education and/or human services requesting your services. Specifically, this staff member has asked you to meet with other staff and/or administrators to develop a behavior intervention plan for a third-grade student at a local elementary school. This student is demonstrating significant problem behaviors in the form of disruptive behaviors in his classroom and in other settings within the school (lunch, recess, specials, etc.). Disruptive behaviors have been termed “aggressive” and “non-compliant” by school staff.

Functional Behavior Assessmentt

Functional Behavior Assessmentt

Assignment Directions

To prepare for this assignment, please review the Unit 6 Assignment Tips. Then, write a 2–4-page expository paper, responding to the following:

Begin by specifying the referral problem. Be creative and consider the type of provider that has requested your services and the client, and provide operational definitions for the problem behaviors indicated in the scenario.
In a script or narrative format, provide information to the members of the “planning” meeting including the following:
Describe the specific purposes of a functional behavior assessment (FBA) and discuss why conducting the FBA prior to the development of a behavior intervention plan is important.
Describe, in specific detail, how antecedent stimuli and conditions could be potentially important for the assessment of the target behaviors in the scenario.
Please include a discussion of the influence of discriminative stimuli and motivating operations in triggering the target behaviors.
Describe, in specific detail, how consequence stimuli and conditions could be potentially important for the assessment of the target behaviors.
Be sure to indicate the influences of positive reinforcement, negative reinforcement, and automatic reinforcement in maintaining the target behaviors.
Select three indirect assessment procedures that you may be implementing during the process of the functional behavioral assessment.
Describe how each applies to the scenario.
Be sure to specify how they will be used and the purpose of each tool.
Select three direct descriptive assessment procedures you may be implementing during the process of the functional behavioral assessment.
Describe how each applies to the scenario.
Be sure to specify how they will be used and the purpose of each tool.
Describe, in specific detail, at least two ethical obligations and/or concerns that would be necessary to address within the current case scenario.
You may use either or both ABA and BACB guidelines as references.

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