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Welcome to a forum dedicated to applied behavior analysis. The purpose of this blog is to provide a forum for students, parents and professionals to access information and discuss timely concerns regarding the science of applied behavior analysis in a reader-friendly manner.

I have fallen off the blog recently, mostly due to the completion of my dissertation and spending time with my daughter. As I delve back into the home-based and consultation world, topics to discuss and share with those interested in applied behavior analysis appears endless. I hope to take this blog in a direction of bridging the gap across the various orientations towards working with and teaching children with autism and related disorders...I'm a behavior analyst through and through, but we can do better in various domains that we have been hesitant to discuss in the past. My interests are veering into the realm of self-regulation, problem-solving, relationship development in addition to working with children with substantial interfering behavior. Comments and discussion is both welcome and desired.

Friday, May 18, 2007

ABC and Functional Behavior Assessment

In response to searches about ABC analysis, I wanted to include a quick word about ABC analysis and the importance of it in an FBA.

In order to identify the function of a problem behavior, you want to look at the antecedent (what triggered the behavior), the behavior (what did it look like, what was the intensity, repeated frequency) and the consequence (what happened directly after the behavior and what may in fact be maintaining the problem behavior). In addition to ABC it is also important to identify any setting events that may be working to keep the behavior going. A setting event is anything that does not directly trigger the behavior but occasions the behavior to occur, and in many cases is much more significant than the antecedent. Below is more of descriptions of these terms with examples.

Setting Event - A setting event can be anything that increases the likelihood of the problem behavior occurring. Many professors and analysts will say that it is something that happened in the near distant past, but I take the explanation of Ted Carr. A setting event can be something that occurred in the near distant past (a fight last night, sitting on the bus to someone that was screaming, not getting enough sleep). A setting event can also include changes in the current environment (the lights are too bright, there are a lot of people in the room, it is noisy). Another setting event can be the person you are working with. For example, if my brother asks me to give him a ride to the store (the antecedent) I may do so willingly because he does things for me as well, and he is a generous and kind individual. However, if a cousin asks me to give him a ride to a store, and I have had nothing but negative interactions with this individual, I may yell, start a fight, or retaliate. Here it is clear to see that the antecedent (asking for a ride) is not the important factor in the analysis of the behavior. Rather "who" asked is the factor that is important to identify.

This can be the same with a child in a school or home setting. If a preferred teacher places a demand, the child may comply with no problem behavior. If a non-preferred teacher places the identical demand, this may trigger a tantrum. This is not due to the antecedent, but rather where the antecedent came from.

Setting events are not fluidly incorporated into FBAs at this time, but are factors that need to be analyzed and addressed. There is much more to discuss on SE, but I will leave it for another post.

Antecedent - This is the immediate trigger: usually in our programs, the demand, but can be anything that happens that directly triggers the behavior. Once antecedents have been identified, a behavior support plan can address the antecedents in order to modify the environment and help the individual attain success. For example, if a demand is an can we change that demand to make it less aversive.

Consequence - This is what happens directly after the behavior, and may be maintaining the behavior. For example, task is presented, child cries, task is removed. The removal of the task is making the child's escape-motivated behavior very successful. When looking at the consequences, you want to identify how can you stop making the inappropriate behavior successful for the child.

To complete an analysis, all these factors need to be taken into consideration. On a data sheet, you should have space for date, time, activity, person, possible setting event, antecedent, behavior, consequence, and a space for comment. When I analyze Se-ABC data, I like to highlight the rows by function to help me identify which function is maintaining each behavior.

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