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Special Education – How to Determine What the Function of Your Child’s School Behavior Is!

Does your child with autism, ADHD, or another disability, have problems with negative school behavior? Have you driven yourself crazy trying to figure out why your child is behaving badly? You can relax, this article will discuss a process which is known as a functional behavioral assessment (FBA) that can help you figure out what your child is gaining from their school behavior. You can use this information to develop a positive behavioral plan, and increase your child’s good behavior.

Before special education personnel can conduct the FBA on your child, they must pinpoint what the behavior is and describe it in concrete terms. For Example: Mary hits other children when she cannot be first in line.

Next you must determine what the ABC’s of a specific behavior are. A stands for Antecedent; what is occurring in the environment at the time of the behavior. B stands for the specific behavior. C stands for the consequence of the behavior;what happens in the environment or to the child because of the behavior. Have special education personnel track the ABC’s of the behavior for one week. This information can be used to develop the FBA.

Now special education personnel are ready to conduct the functional behavioral assessment, on your child. The definition of an FBA is: A process for collection of information. The data the team collects is used to help determine why problem behaviors occur.

Once you determine why the problem behavior occurs, the information from the functional behavioral assessment will be used to develop a positive behavioral plan. A positive behavioral plan is not punishment for negative behavior, but a plan to increase positive behavior, which will in turn decrease negative behavior.

Appropriate steps for conducting a FBA:

1. Identify the problem behaviors that most need to change. Isolate them and describe them in concrete terms.
2. Determine where the behavior occurs and where it does not.
3. Identify what may contribute to the behavior. Is the child ill, are the child’s academics too hard, avoidance of something, attention getting etc.
4. What is unique, about the environments where behaviors are not a concern.
5. What is different, in the places where the problem behaviors do occur.
6. Is the work that a child is asked to do cause the problem.
7. Could the time of day affect your child’s behavior.
8. Is the problem linked to a skill deficit?
9. Come up with a list of new positive behaviors that can be taught to the child, that have the same function as the negative behaviors.
10.Develop a theory about why the behavior is occurring! Some people call this a hypothesis, about why the behavior is happening.
11.Test your theory. Develop a positive behavioral plan and track to see if your child’s behavior is improving.
12.Occasionally meet with school personnel and evaluate whether the positive behavior plan continues to be effective, or if the plan needs to be updated.

By following these steps in conducting the functional behavioral assessment, you will finally understand what your child is gaining, from the negative school behavior. After you and special education personnel develop a positive behavioral plan, your child will be well on their way to improving their school behavior.

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