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Completing a Functional Analysis


Assessing Challenging Behaviors
Many of the students receiving services from Anova are provided with a behavioral assessment, developed by our Behavior Analysts and with the written permission of the student's parents, to address problem behaviors at school. This assessment is comprised of two parts: a Functional Analysis and a Positive Behavior Intervention Plan. A "functional analysis" is a method to gather anecdotal and numerical data used to determine the "function" of the target behavior - in other words, why the behavior has value to the individual. A Positive Behavior Intervention Plan is a detailed list of recommendations, based on the information gathered in the functional analysis, to provide support and strategies to reduce the problem behavior and replace it with adaptive skills.

Why Spend Time on a Behavioral Assessment?

  •     It provides the opportunity and the structure to re-think a problem that has not yet been solved.
  •     It takes an emotion-laden event and defines the problem behavior in objective, measurable, and observable terms.
  •     It makes data-driven predictions about when and where the problem behavior is most likely to occur.
  •     It makes data-driven predictions about what maintains an undesirable behavior in the environment.
  •     It allows the evaluator to understand the why the behavior occurs, and how to eliminate it in the most efficient manner.

Most students respond well to the basic behavioral framework provided in public school classrooms. When this framework proves to be insufficient for a student, Anova Behavior Analysts move to the next level and provide an individualized behavior plan. The Behavior Analysts at Anova are uniquely trained and uniquely qualified to address the behavioral needs of the students in our care. As implementers of sophisticated behavioral techniques we have an obligation to uphold the ethical and procedural standards of Applied Behavior Analysis.

In other words, if our methods for behavior change are not data-based, assessment-based, and research-based, we cannot expect durable results. And if our methods for behavior change are not the least restrictive, least aversive, and are not implemented by trained and competent individuals who understand what they are doing and WHY they are doing it, the methods may be inadvertently harming someone that we intend to help. An effective behavior plan begins with a thoughtful and complete behavioral assessment that cuts through the complexity of human behavior by relying on the fundamentals of Applied Behavior Analysis.

Elements of an Anova Behavioral Assessment
The Behavioral Assessments developed at Anova include the following sections:

  • Functional Analysis Assessments
  • Referral Information
  • Reason For Referral    
  • Method of Evaluation
  • Client Description
  • Current Placement And Relevant History
  • Functional Analysis Of The Behavior

Description Of The Behavior: This analysis describes the behavior so it can be accurately observed and measured. The description is divided into the topography of the behavior (the physical actions involved in the behavior), the cycle of the behavior (the beginning and ending of each occurrence or episode, if applicable), and the severity of the behavior (the degree to which the behavior impacts others or the environment or the potential for physical injury to the individual).

Baseline Level: The baseline level of the behavior is a measurement of the strength of the behavior (frequency, rate, duration, or intensity) that was observed during the assessment period.

History Of The Behavior: This analysis presents the recent and long-term history of the behavior. This information is presented to better understand the person's learning history and possible events that may have contributed to the behavior.

Antecedent Analysis: This analysis attempts to identify the specific events in the environment that immediately precede the occurrence of the behavior and may act as stimuli to cause the behavior to happen. These may include settings, activities, specific people, time of the day/week/month, things that are said to the individual, or materials.

Consequence Analysis: The consequence analysis attempts to identify the events in the environment following the behavior. These may include the effects on the immediate social and physical environment that are caused by the occurrence of the behavior and the function these events may serve as far as maintaining the occurrence of the behavior.

Ecological And Setting Events Analysis: This analysis evaluates settings where the behavior occurs most frequently, as well as events that may occur some time prior to the occurrence of the behavior and have an effect. Ecological and setting events analysis considers the physical and social settings, activities, nature of instruction, quality of communication between staff, other students, and the individual, the degree of independence, the degree of participation, the amount and quality of social interactions, the degree of choice, and the variety of activities. The individual’s physical or biological condition is also considered in regard to how changes in these conditions may affect the individual’s behavior.

Reinforcers Identified During The Functional Analysis:

Analysis Of Likely Replacement Skills: The analysis of alternative or replacement behaviors considers the appropriate behaviors or skills the individual needs to use in situations where the problem behavior occurs. Consideration of whether or not the individual possesses these skills or not, if they are able to use them in the appropriate situations, what may inhibit the individual from using them, and the level of assistance required for the individual to use these skills are considered. The current rate these behaviors occur as well as their antecedents and consequences should also be specified.

Summary Of Analysis and Hypotheses: This summary is a culmination of the information gathered in the above analysis and a statement of the functions served by the behaviors.

Behavior Intervention Plans

General Information
    Reason For Referral
    The baseline level of the behavior documented during the assessment period.

Interventions
The behavior targeted for change and the information gathered in a functional analysis assessment determine the type of behavior interventions to be used. Behavioral recommendations are directly tied to the function of the behavior. Generally speaking, all behavior assessments developed by Anova Behavior Analysts, will include these common features:

  • Preventative strategies developed as a way of avoiding the problem behavior
  • Reinforcement strategies used to motivate the learner and provide incentives for improved behavior
  • Modifications to the environment or task expectations to maximize the individual’s success
  • Instructional techniques for use in teaching new skills and behaviors to replace the problem behavior
  • Reactive strategies to be implemented immediately following each occurrence of the behavior.
  • Positive Alternative Replacement Skills. These new skills are those that the student learns to use in place of the problem behaviors. The outcome of effective behavior support and intervention plans is not only to reduce the occurrence of problem behaviors, but also to increase positive and functional replacement behaviors.


Once the written Behavioral Assessment is approved by the parents and adopted as part of the student’s IEP, the Behavior Analyst works to assist teachers, parents, and other professionals to implement the plan successfully. The behavioral recommendations are explained in detail and on-going observation and support is provided to assure that individuals implementing the Behavior intervention plan have a full understanding of, and can demonstrate, the recommended strategies. When determined to be appropriate, consultation services are systematically faded out and replaced with the natural supports for the student.

For more information about Functional Analysis or Positive Behavior Intervention, please call (707) 527-7032.

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