At Journey ABA, we use a wide variety of tools, assessments, and approaches to help us address the unique needs and goals of each of our clients.
One of the most foundational tools we rely on is the functional behavioral assessment (FBA), which is a practice used in our Florida and Massachusetts centers to understand why interfering behaviors may be occurring. Our team completes an FBA for each client at the start of ABA services as a part of our comprehensive assessment.
The ultimate goal of the FBA is to help our experienced team of BCBAs create customized treatment plans for each client that address the specific reasons why interfering behavior occurs.
What Are Functional Behavioral Assessments?
Functional behavioral assessments (FBA) are an evidence-based practice used in applied behavior analysis (ABA) to determine why a child with autism spectrum disorder is exhibiting behaviors that interfere with participation in ongoing activities, and may be harmful or dangerous to our clients or others. Examples of these interfering behaviors include:
- Self-injurious behavior (SIB)
- Property destruction
The functional part of the phrase refers to identifying the function of a behavior, which is a more technical way of saying that we understand the specific reasons why the behavior may be more or less likely to occur. Our team may use a variety of methods to determine the function of a behavior, such as interviews with the client and caregivers, surveys and questionnaires, direct observations, and specialized assessments where we test specific contexts and responses for the behavior, such as descriptive analyses and functional analyses.
The Relationship Between FBAs and ABA Interventions
The results from the FBA help our team of BCBAs develop truly individualized treatments for each target behavior (i.e., develop function-based interventions). Our behavior support plans for interfering behavior(s) typically include components to replace the interfering behavior behavior with more appropriate, alternative behavior.
For example, if the results of the FBA for a client indicate that property destruction occurs when our client cannot play video games, we may develop an intervention to teach our client how to request video games appropriately and without engaging in the behavior of concern, as well as teaching the client that there may certain times of the day where they cannot play video games (e.g., during meals or bath times).
As another example, if we determine that a client engages in aggressive behavior when asked to complete school work, we may work with the client to learn to ask for a break and help as the replacement behavior. We may also work with the client to tolerate loner periods of academic work so they can participate fully in instructional activities at school.
The FBA is a very flexible tool that allows our BCBAs to create interventions that have the best chance of success. The FBA is a critical part of our comprehensive assessment process, where our team learns about our clients’ areas of strength, as well as areas where they may need additional support.