In our classrooms and homes, a full functional behavior assessment is not always possible. But it is important for teachers and therapists to learn to ask ourselves the key FBA questions to try and identify what is going on in order to inform intervention. So, some questions to keep on your mind....always...
1. Why do I think he is engaging in this behavior? A simple question, but at the crux of FBA. Function=Why. Why is the child engaging in this behavior? To escape the task? To get something he wants? To get my attention? Breaking it down and asking the question in the moment, helps us to think analytically about the behavior not only will help inform intervention, but helps the teacher take a step back and see the behavior for what it is, communicative, and not personal.
2. Is there a setting that appears to occasion this behavior? Does it occur more during certain activities? AFter a transition? When leaving a preferred activity for a non-preferred activity? When there are more or less people in the room? After a long weekend or break? Identifying patterns in when the problem behavior occurs informs intervention as we can then develop a plan to work within that setting or activity. For example, if we identify that a problem behavior occurs during writing workshop, we can target writing workshop by a) breaking down the activities into smaller mini-activities within he workshop to make it more manageable, b) we can pair the environment positively and use the child's preferences incorporated into the workshop, c) we can make sure that writing workshop does NOT follow a preferred activity, but rather is followed by a preferred activity to act as a natural reinforcer, d) provide additional support during this activity, e) teach functional communication to replace the inappropriate behavior in this context.
3. Is there a consistent antecedent to the behavior? Meaning, what usually happens just before the behavior? Identifying this pattern may also help to inform intervention.
4. Is there a consistent consequence to this behavior? What usually happens after the behavior that may be maintaining the behavior? Is my behavior as a teacher maintaining the inappropriate behavior? How can I change my behavior while teaching my student/child a new behavior.
These questions should be asked of ourselves as teachers with fluency when observing behavior. This is not to say that formal functional behavior assessment is not necessary; however it isn't always feasible. Working in a busy and active classroom, it isn't possible for a teacher to stop, complete every data sheet necessary, and observe behavior taking note of antecedents and consequences. It is however possible, with practice, to think FBA all the time.