A functional behavior assessment (FBA) is a process in which you observe the individual and take data in order to find out why the person is engaging in the behavior.  Since it is thought that all behavior is a communicative act and all behavior is purposeful, the theory behind a functional behavior assessment is that the behavior serves a function for that person.  By conducting a functional behavior assessment, you try to identify the function that the behavior serves (i.e. why is the person doing this behavior?)  In order to come up with a plan that works, you must first correctly identify the function.

Functional behavioral assessments take time to complete because you need to observe the individual and you need to ask many questions to find out if there are any patterns in the person’s behavior.  For example, do they engage in the behavior with one person, but not another, or does the behavior only happen in the AM but not the PM, etc.  These observations, when written down (data collected) can sometimes help to identify a pattern of behavior, therefore, offering an idea of the function that behavior serves for that person.

When conducting a Functional Behavior Assessment (FBA) several assessment tools may be used.  Data collection sheets of various styles, direct observation, interviews, and  questioning of the adults who work closely with the person, are a few. This free Functional Behavior Assessment resource can help supplement any tools you are using to conduct an FBA.


Ways to Help Identify the Function of a Behavior.