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Functional Behavioral Assessment How to Do Them Right

Eric P. Hartwig PHD Gary M Ruesch, Esq

I was sent this tape from my special education director. I am an Emotional/Behavior Disturbed teacher and work with behavior management plans. I am always interested in learning of "tools" and methods to help my students. I have to admit that when this tape was sent to me I was excited because my special education director reported that she saw Dr. Hartwig at a convention and said he was fabulous.

Because this is suppose to be a reactionary assignment I will give my honest opinion hoping that all types of responses are welcome and not just favorable ones. I have to admit when I first started watching this tape I was taking notes, it was easy because I could stop the tape and write down everything word-for word. It wasn't long into the tape and I was totally amazed. Here is a PHD in the study of behavior and how could someone be so rhetoric and clueless to the real world of the classroom. Maybe more power to him be on the lecture tour and write about behaviors. Maybe I'm too on -hands or cynical, but not once did he give an example or sound practical.

To begin with, the first words were his definition of Functional Behavioral Assessment. "a comprehensive and individual approach to examine variables maintaining challenging behaviors". (Comprehensive-I'd say, Individual-I hope so) "behavioral assessment methods used to identify the functional relationship between antecedent. behaviors and consequent events". (I guess that sums it up- what are problem behaviors, what outside things cause them and then form a behavior hypothesis with an intervention)-

The only statement in this video that I took notice and enjoyed was "Less effort to get a response more likely demonstrate the behavior". I like this because it is so true, good or bad behaviors the student will take the easiest route to attention. That is why I utilize positive reinforcement. P> I also had to balk at Dr. Hartwig's suggestion that when a student is having behavior problems, the IEP Team convenes and the special education director or school psychologist conduct a Function Behavior Assessment. I would like to know of one school district that has the time available to administration and for the IEP team meet and have the director or psychologist conduct the Functional Behavior Assessment, reconvene and make a intervention plan. The E/BD teachers in our district do it by second nature. If a behavior occurs they use common sense to diminish or change the behavior without the hullabaloo. I continue on my soap box about the unfortunate scenario of- the people that are the farthest away from students are making the decision and influencing their education.

-- Anonymous, December 02, 1998



Functional Behavioral Assessment How to Do Them Right

Eric P. Hartwig PHD Gary M Ruesch, Esq

Functional Behavioral Assessment: A comprehensive and individual approach to examining variables maintaining challenging behaviors.

Behavior assessment methods used to identify the functional relationship between antecedents, behaviors and consequent events.

Functional Behavior Assessments 1. Descriptive Analysis (multiple sources an informal sense or hypothesis 2. Functional Analysis (Manipulating variable maintains inappropriate behaviors.

Major Elements of Functional Behavior Assessment

Descriptive Analysis Describes specific target behaviors or behavior patterns that are observable, measurable and operationally defined.

Collect information across respondents and settings using a variety of sources

Identify antecedents behaviors, including events, time, and content, which logically predict the current behavior and consequences (that follow maintained behavior).

Identify the function or purpose of the behavior.

What's the payoff?

Develop a hypothesis or informed guess, about behaviors.

Identify variables that can be manipulated.

Functional Behavior Assessment Develop the intervention to test you guess

Teach alternatives that serve the same function as the challenging behavior.

Who conducts the Assessment and when? The IEP Team determines-special ed. director or the school psychologist.

When Either before or no later than 10 days after taking description action (including suspension or placement in an interim alternative educational setting) the local education agency take the following actions: 1. If there has been no function behavioral assessment, and there is no current behavioral intervention plan, the agency shall convene an IEP meeting to develop an assessment plan to address the behavior that resulted in the suspension. 2. If the child already has a behavioral intervention plan, the IEP team shall review the plan and modify it as necessary.

Addressing Challenging Behaviors 1. Environment Factors (seating arrangement, noise level, frequent disruptions) 2. Psychological or Emotional Conditions (Anxiety, hunger, thirst, anger, fatigue, illness, pain, sickness to allergies, side effects of medication increase arousal due to fight, missing bus, disruptive routine 3. Setting Event (the presence and interaction of specific classmates, degree of teacher proximity 4. Curriculum Instruction (limited opportunity for making choices, lack of predictability in schedule, inadequate level of assistance, poor instruction, f ew opportunity to communicate, activities that are to difficult, activities that might not be perceived as being useful to the student.

Function of Challenging Behavior attention, power, avoidance, fear of failure, feels good revenge

Reason get something, sensory stimulation, peer status, tangible rewards, to escape or avoid, exhibiting aggression, whining, goofing off.

The less effort to get response more likely student will demonstrate behavior!

Direct Approach measure behavior at particular times and analyses (study habits, work habits, and interaction with teacher and peers

Indirect Approach relies on rating scales, checklist. questionnaires and interviews

Descriptive Phase behavior is described from a collection of pertinent behavior information obtained from multiple sources including: standardized instruments-checklist, records discussion and interviews direct observation.

Functional Analysis (application phase) - identify variables and manipulated systematically. - test manipulate variables or create situations to see how it affects student's behaviors. example proximity control

Single Session Function Assessment Step #1 Identify and define the target behavior (behavior that is observable, description, operational defined Step #2 Collect information across respondents and setting(variety of sources variety of sources Step # 3 Identify antecedents events and consequences. Step # 4 Identify the function or purpose of behavior ( to get something-undesirable behaviors reinforced by contingent acknowledgment- positive reinforcement and to escape or avoid something or someone undesirable behaviors reinforced by removal of unpleasant tasks (negative reinforcement). Step # 5 Develop Hypothesis about the behavior- hypotheses is informed guess there. These relationship behaviors to event and circumstances. Identify variables to be manipulated. Step # 6 Develop an intervention based on the hypothesis. Manipulate variables systematically-teach acceptable alternative.

Summary Behavior problems don't always respond to classroom management plans (use consequences). These approaches are inefficient because procedures don't adequately address the function of the inappropriate behavior. Functional Behavior Assessments help to understand challenging behaviors in a contextual framework. Steps should be taken to address when conduct 1st occurs- a Functional Behavior Assessment helps to determine whether current program is appropriate or if a student could benefit from more specialized instruction or related service.

-- Anonymous, December 02, 1998

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