Completing Functional Behavior Assessments in the Classroom

Completing Functional Behavior Assessments in Special Education

I surveyed teachers on my Instagram account and learned that many special education teachers are expected to complete functional behavior assessments (FBAs) and create behavior intervention plans (BIPs) without the guidance or support from BCBAs or school psychologists. Many special education teachers also don't get training on completing FBAs.
First, I'm not a Board Certified Behavior Analysis (BCBA), however I completed all of the ABA course work in my Master's program. My first few years of teaching, I really struggled with FBAs and BIPs; I didn't have much support or guidance with them and was floundering. My Master's program helped me to realize that special education teachers can conduct and create awesome FBAs & BIPs. Best practice is to work with a BCBA or school psychologist when we're able to. However, if it just isn't possible/ an option to work with a BCBA or school psychologist in some districts, so we have a responsibility to complete them ourselves. The team for conducting FBAs should always include >> families, special education teacher, general education teachers and paraprofessionals (if applicable). 

I'm going to share broad/ general steps for completing a FBA. I'll also link to more in depth resources for each step! For each of the steps, I will share a made-up example. 

Simple Steps for Completing a FBA:
1) Identify & Define the Target Behavior 
Identify the behavior that needs to be decreased/ increased, AKA the "target behavior."  Remember that we should be very mindful to ensure that we are identifying behaviors that are safety concerns, impacting the student's ability to learn and/ or impacting the student socially. We need to make sure we aren't identifying target behaviors simply because they annoy or bother someone. 

After you identify the target behavior, create a measurable and concrete definition with the team. Definitions should include examples and non-examples of the target behavior. It might be helpful to have a few different people read the definition to make sure the definition is not able to be interpreted differently by anyone. 

Example of a measurable & concrete behavior definition:
  • When presented with work during groups, Kim drops her body to the floor and remains on the floor for 60 seconds or more. This does not include when Kim drops her body to the floor and returns to the math table in less than 60 seconds or when she drops to the floor to pick something up.
Not a measurable & concrete definition:
  • Kim won't do her work.
  • Kim leaves the work space.
  • Kim has tantrums.
2) Collect ALL the Data!
Collecting a variety of data points is important! The data that you collect will depend on the targeted behavior. School psychologists and BCBAs are super helpful in determining important data to collect. It's important to include:
  • Indirect assessments (family & teacher interviews, rating scales, checklists, etc.)
  • Antecedent behavior consequence (ABC) data and other data through direct observations (frequency, duration, latency, etc.)
Completing Functional Behavior Assessments in Special Education

Data to collect on Kim's target behavior:
Completing Functional Behavior Assessments in Special Education

3) Analyze Data & Make a Hypothesis 
Look for patterns in the data. Is the target behavior taking place at the same time of the day or only in the presence of one staff member? What does the data tell you about the setting, consequences or antecedents of the behavior? Use the data to make a hypothesis about the function of the behavior.  Again, when possible, this step is ideally completed with a BCBA or school psychologist, but work with the team you have! 

The 4 functions of behavior are:
  • Attention (connection)
  • Tangible 
  • Automatic (sensory)
  • Escape (avoidance)
Analysis of data & hypothesis of Kim's behavior:
  • Kim drops to the floor within 10 seconds of being presented with math work. She does not drop to the floor when presented with reading work or during other lessons/ times of the school day. She also engages in this behavior when presented with math homework at home. 
  • In school, Kim dropped to the floor when presented with math work 15 out of 15 days data was collected. On average, she stayed on the ground for 27 minutes of the 30 minute math lesson.
  • Kim continued to engage in the behavior when the following consequences occurred: verbal re-directions from staff, remarks and attention from peers, when shown visuals, proximity control, loss of privileges. 
  • According to the data, after a few prompts (verbal and visuals) from staff, the staff members stopped prompting Kim and she remained on the floor.
  • All indirect assessments and observation data suggest that the function of Kim's behavior is to avoid/ escape math work.  The team's hypothesis is that Kim's dropping to the floor behavior is maintained by getting out of completing math assignments. 
4) Create a Plan & Stick With It
After you have a hypothesis about the function of the behavior, it's time to make a plan (AKA make the BIP) that align to the function of the target behavior. It's crucial that the intervention allows the student to get the same outcome that the target behavior does. For example, since Kim drops to the floor to escape work, so the intervention needs to allow her a way to escape/ avoid work too. If the interventions we implement don't align to the function of the behavior (or if our hypothesis of the function was incorrect), then the plan will not change the target behavior. 

It's also really crucial to remember the importance of sticking with the behavior plan. Obviously we need to follow our district's expectations around data timelines, but BIPs should be implemented consistently for a couple of weeks before abandoning or changing them. Don't forget that the target behavior often gets worse before it gets better (the dreaded extinction burst!), stick with the plan! 

BIPs should include plans for:
  • teaching a replacement behavior 
  • antecedent interventions (preventative strategies)
  • consequences: for replacement behavior and target behavior (response strategies)
  • taking and analyzing data
  • crisis plan, if necessary
Brief example of Kim's plan:
  • Replacement behavior: Kim will request help and/ or breaks during math by handing a teacher a break card or verbally requesting it.
Completing Functional Behavior Assessments in Special Education
  • Antecedent interventions: 
    • reducing work demands (i.g. do half of the problems, only do even numbers, complete math centers but not worksheets, etc.)
    • scheduling frequent breaks 
    • offering choice (i.g. what writing utensil to use, what staff member to work with, where to sit, what activity to do first, etc.)
Completing Functional Behavior Assessments in Special Education

Completing Functional Behavior Assessments in Special Education

  • Consequences (for the replacement behavior and target behavior)
    • Replacement behavior (requesting a break or help): Kim requesting a break or help will be positively reinforced by getting a break. The duration and frequency of breaks will be reduced/ faded over time. 
    • Target behavior (drops to floor): The staff will not remove the math work demand. Kim will be expected to complete some part of the math assignment prior to moving on with the rest of her schedule. Staff can place work (with reduced demand) on floor next to Kim. 
  • Data: Team will continue to take duration and latency data. Data will be collected daily for 2 weeks. Team will review data on Wednesdays and Fridays. After 2 weeks, team will determine if plan is working. 
  • Crisis plan: not necessary
5) Continue Collecting & Analyzing Data
Continuing to take and analyze data during the BIP implementation is SO important! It allows us to recognize when plans are working and when we need to modify them. Most people suggest taking data on BIPs 1-2 times a week (depending on the target behavior) and reviewing/ analyzing it weekly or bi-weekly. 

6) Modify the Plan (as needed)
If the team has implemented the plan consistently for a couple of weeks, and the data shows the plan isn't reducing the target behaviors... it's probably time to modify the plan. Work with the team to identify new interventions or to determine if the hypothesis of the function was incorrect. 

Resource Bank

This blog post laid out 6 main steps in the FBA process. I have resources you can download that correspond with several of the sections:

Step 1: Identify and Define the Target Behavior

Resources & more info:

-Defining Problem Student Behaviors (from Intervention Central)

-5 Steps to Meaningful Behavioral Support: Step 1- Focus Assessment by Defining Behavior (from Autism Classroom Resources)

Step 2: Collect the Data
Resources & more info:
-Behavior Data Sheets that Will Rock your BIPs (from Autism Classroom Resources)
-Data Sheets (from Behavior Babe)
-Data Collection Resources
-Behavior Documentation Forms (from Earlywood Educational Services)

Step 3: Analyze the Data and Make a Hypothesis
Resources & more info:
WTF (What's the Function?) (from Adaptation Station)

Step 4: Create a Plan and Stick With It
Resources & more info:
Handout with Function-Based Interventions (from the Ceedar Center)
Design a Function-Based Intervention (from the Iris Center)
Function-Based Strategies (Hieneman)

No comments:

Post a Comment