Functional Behavior Assessment | Meaning, Types, Example & Templates Pdf

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In dealing with kids in school, one shouldn’t be in a hurry to assume the cause of an inappropriate that interferes with their learning without performing a functional behavior assessment.

This assessment seeks to investigate the root cause of a certain behavior, determine circumstances that trigger it, as well as devise an intervention plan that makes it less likely to occur.

Hence, the need to dig for more information about the functional behavior assessment. You are in the right place if you are one of those keen on learning about the meaning, types, and examples. Ride with us!

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What is Functional Behavior Assessment?

Also called an FBA, a Functional Behavior Assessment is a systematic data gathering technique an Individualized Education Program team uses to aid in the identification of positive behavior interventions and supports for use in the classroom.

In simpler terms, a functional Behavior Assessment (FBA) is a method for detecting problem behaviors as well as the specific circumstances that make the behaviors more or less likely to occur.

A functional behavior assessment comes into the scene when students engage in harmful behaviors that prevent them from learning the skills they need to succeed.

This assessment is used to find the answers to the following questions:

  • Why is the student behaving in this manner?
  • What promotes the difficult behavior?
  • What positive treatments aid in the reduction of difficult behavior and the growth of desirable behavior?

The intervention is then built upon the suggested causes (functions) of behavior. Therefore, understanding the causes of behavior makes it easier to intervene in a more focused and efficient manner.

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History of Functional Behavior Assessment

The functional behavioral assessment (FBA) is a modified version of methods that were first created to determine the reasons behind behaviors displayed by people with severe cognitive or communicative disabilities (e.g., people with mental retardation or autism).

Methods were devised to ascertain the reasons behind these people’s incorrect behavior since they were unable to completely explain their acts.

These investigative techniques were referred to as functional behavioral analysis, and they were essentially based on the approach and methodology of applied behavior analysis.

Concerned staff members could typically interpret the meaning of the behaviors, that is, which emotion or message was being communicated through the actions, to determine why they were occurring, and develop behavior change programs to assist the disabled person in exhibiting more appropriate behavior in meeting his or her needs.

Therefore, the reauthorization of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) in 1997 required the use of techniques like functional behavior analysis.

In addition, these approaches are now termed functional behavior assessment when applied to children ages 3 to 21.

Advantages of Functional Behavior Assessment

Carrying out this assessment of children has great benefit, no doubt. The following are the advantages of the functional behavior assessment:

  • This assessment ascertains the root causes of inappropriate behaviors
  • Supplies details on the occurrence of the interfering behaviors and their context
  • Creates a hypothesis on behavior
  • Recognizes reinforcers of the unsuitable behavior
  • Creates a supportive behavioral intervention that works well

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Types of Inappropriate Behavior

There are three general categories of inappropriate or problem behaviors.

However, these unsuitable behaviors can fall into one or more of these categories.

The following are the three categories of inappropriate behaviors:

  • Conduct that generates attention and other desirable events (e.g., access to toys, desired activities)
  • Behavior that helps the individual to avoid or escape demands or other undesirable events/activities
  • Behavior that arises as a result of its sensory implications (eases pain or feels good)

What are Functional Behavior Assessment Example

It is important to identify the reason behind a child’s behavior. Remember, this is the essence of the functional behavior assessment.

Your ability to figure out the root cause of the child’s action is the beginning of finding a solution, which lies in an FBA.

A classic example is Brian, who gets agitated the moment he’s asked to spell or write. The behavior he puts out is one of rebellion, sticking his foot on the ground against his teacher.

A superficial look at the repetitive behavior would point to headiness. However, carrying out a functional assessment may point to dyslexia or something else.

An example like this without an iota of doubt requires a functional behavior assessment.

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How Can You Determine the Cause or Function of Behavior?

There are basically three ways through which you can determine the cause or function of behavior.

Let’s take a look at them:

  • Rating standards and interviews
  • Observation of a person’s conduct that is both direct and methodical
  • Changing environmental events to examine how behavior evolves

Who Can Perform a Functional Behavioral Assessment?

In a matter of minutes, you would realize that several persons can perform an FBA. However, these people are trained in data collection and processing.

The training they undergo adequately prepares them to accurately perform the assessment, such as conducting interviews and carrying out observations.

Professionals who can perform an FBA include school psychologists, associate principals, special education teachers, and principals.

When Should You Do a Functional Behavior Assessment?

Functional behavior assessments don’t just come into the scene. Certain reasons necessitate this assessment of children.

In order to have an in-depth understanding of this assessment, let’s consider when a child needs it;

  • When a kid is suspended from class for more than ten days in a row as a result of behavior that suggests a disability
  • When the IEP committee concludes that an FBA is necessary when a child is suspended from school for longer than ten days due to behavior that is a symptom of a disability
  • Lastly, when a kid is in an interim alternative educational environment for a period of no more than 45 school days for behavior involving a harmful weapon, illegal substances, or the inflicting of significant physical harm.

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Functional Behavior Assessment Checklist

You must be wondering how to conduct an FBA (Functional Behavior Assessment). Well, you have nothing to worry about.

We’ll take you through a functional behavior assessment checklist that will guide you through the steps of conducting the assessment.

1. Determine and Agree on the Behavior That Should Change

In order to comprehend the issue, the identification process starts with a description of the problematic behaviors.

It is crucial to focus on the most important issue behavior when a child has a range of problematic behaviors.

2. Identify Areas Where the Behaviors Occur and Where They Don’t

The team would likely carry out interviews, make observations, and debate the following issues:

  • What is unique about the locations where the behaviors don’t take place?
  • What differentiates the settings where the problematic behaviors do take place?
  • Does the problematic behavior relate to the child’s reactions to classmates or the teacher?
  • Is there a problem with the number of other students there or with the difficulty of the coursework?
  • Does the time of day or the child’s mood affect the behavior? Are there any persistent problems the child has, such as conflicts with peers in the hall or on the morning bus?
  • What particular incidents appear to encourage the problematic behaviors?
  • Do such behaviors only occur in a particular setting or under particular circumstances?

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3. Obtain as Much Information as You Can From Different Sources on the Child’s Performance

You might find additional information about the child’s troubling behavior from further sources.

A review of earlier assessment results, reports of behavior incidents, and other records the school possess concerning the student’s conduct may be part of that.

Parents may also divulge details from other evaluations, such as those from professionals in mental health.

Although knowing this is helpful, parents need to be aware of how much personal health information they should provide.

4. Think critically about the causes of bad behavior (the function of the behaviors)

With the use of all the information from observation and data analysis, you can arrive at a theory explaining why the behavior occurs.

In addition, this makes it easier to anticipate when and why your child may act out negatively.

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5. Determine teachable Behaviors

You also need to choose actions that your kid can learn and practice in school as positive alternatives to their problem behavior (s).

Functional Behavior Assessment Template PDF

The functional behavior assessment template pdf summarizes the entire process of investigating the root causes of behaviors.


What are the six steps in a functional assessment?

The following are the six steps in the functional behavior assessment:

  • Data collection
  • Creation of hypothesis
  • Observation
  • BSP (Behavior Support Plan)
  • Script implementation
  • Evaluation/Redesign

How long should an FBA take?

A functional behavior assessment takes around 30 days to complete.

What is the first step in the FBA process?

Identification and definition of the problem behavior (also known as the target behavior) and replacement behavior are the first steps in the FBA process.

Therefore, a teacher should simultaneously encourage a better choice while working to stop problematic behaviors.

What is the goal of a functional assessment?

The goal of a functional evaluation is to offer teaching and/or intervention strategies that are specifically suitable to each individual.

Is FBA an evidence-based practice?

Of course! With five single-subject and one group design studies spanning ages as well as in the behavior and communication areas, FBA satisfies evidence-based standards.


With the functional behavior assessment, you can tell the reason behind a child’s inappropriate behavior, as well as the reinforcers.

Stating that the functional behavior assessment is necessary is a mild way of putting it.

Thanks for reading!


  • – What is a Functional Behavioral Assessment and How Is It Used? An Overview for Parents
  • – Functional Behavioral Assessment (FBA)


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