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What is a Functional Behavior Assessment "FBA" and Why do I Need One?

by Sheryl R. Frishman, Esq.

There are times that educators and/or parents are concerned about a persistent problem behavior or set of behaviors that are occurring in school that are interfering with a child achieving his or her educational goals. One way to address problem behaviors in school is ask for a Functional Behavior Assessment or "FBA". An FBA is a formal assessment that looks to determine why a student is exhibiting a problem behavior that is interfering with the student’s learning. By determining the "why" or the purpose behind the behavior, a Behavioral Intervention Plan "BIP" can be devised, that will identify positive interventions that can be put in place to reduce the problem behaviors and help the student to substitute the problem behaviors with more acceptable behaviors.

A parent or a teacher can request a FBA from the Committee on Preschool Special Education "CPSE" for students ages 3-5 or the Committee on Special Education CSE ("CSE") for students over the age of 5. The request should be made at a CPSE or CSE meeting and should include an identification of the problem behavior(s) how often the behavior(s) occur and how the behavior(s) are interfering with student achieving his or her educational goals. Once the FBA is approved by the committee, a team is put together that completes the assessment. The parents the teachers and the student him or herself should be part of this team. A behavior analyst usually leads the team who is knowledgeable about behavior and can take objective measurable data.

Once the FBA is complete, a Behavioral Intervention Plan or "BIP" is put in place and is written into the students IEP. The BIP should set realistic goals and objectives, describe direct interventions, prescribe responses to displays of problem behaviors, and should provide a list of replacement behaviors and how they will be taught. The ultimate goal of a good BIP is to teach positive alternative behaviors that will serve the same purpose as the problem behaviors and modify the circumstances surrounding the behaviors so that problem behaviors are no longer being rewarded in any way. The BIP should be continually monitored by the CPSE or CSE committee, the educators and the parents.

If done properly the Functional Behavioral Assessment is a powerful tool to help remedy problem behaviors a student is having.

Note:This is not legal advice. Please do not rely on this without first consulting with an attorney.

Sheryl Frishman, Esq.
Frishman & Faber
Tel: (914) 898-2106

Disclaimer: Internet Special Education Resources (ISER) provides this information in an effort to help parents find local special education professionals and resources. ISER does not recommend or endorse any particular special education referral source, special educational methodological bias, type of special education professional, or specific special education professional.


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