Behavior is a way of communication of an individual, which describes much about their health and desires. Problem behavior refers to behaviors that the society or legal authorities perceive as a setback. All human behavior occurs in a context and serves a particular purpose (Cooper, Heron, & Heward, 2007). Clients with problem behaviors use maladaptive ways to acquire their needs. Behavior analysts take action on such behaviors to help create appropriate interventions for change. Many institutions face difficulty when students display problem behaviors and call for professional assistance to determine the cause of the problem. This paper discusses the assessment of problem behavior and explains the intervention procedures.
Behavior Intervention Plan and Functional Behavior Assessment
Specific Purposes of an FBA
Functional behavior assessment is based on various assumptions that form the major purposes. First, a behavior occurs for a reason that serves a function. This function can only be determined through FBA by getting information on the time when the behavior occurred, the event before the manifested behavior, the consequences, and the people present at that time. Secondly, the information should be gathered on what increases or reduces the problem behavior. Thirdly, it identifies what the client is trying to communicate, which could be due to the need for attention or help, or a way of avoiding a particular task. These assumptions lead to the development of a BIP that entails teaching the client new, acceptable behaviors to serve a similar purpose.
Conducting a functional behavior assessment is crucial as it helps practitioners to work from an informed point of view. It reduces judgmental conclusions and increases objectivity. FBA functions as a guide for behavior interventions for a behavior analyst. Conducting a functional behavior intervention also shows professionalism as it works to establish the causes of behavior and finding appropriate ways of addressing them.
The Referral Problem: Type of Provider and the Client
The referral problem, in this case, is a student displaying aggressive and disruptive behaviors in school and at home, which affect others as well as himself. The client is a 12-year-old boy from a family of five consisting of two girls and their parents. The family has moved to a new province where the boy has enrolled in a new school. The service provider is the boy’s class teacher who feels that he needs a behavior analyst to help come up with an intervention plan. The teacher has had various encounters with the clients’ problem behavior and noted consistency.
Operational Definition of the Problem Behavior(s)
In functional behavior assessment, the problem behavior is defined in a concrete way to enable anyone to grasp the precise meaning, measure, or record. It further describes the frequency and the specific events during which the problem behavior is manifested. In this case, the client disrupts lessons in the classroom by making loud noises and manifests aggressive behaviors to other students by pushing them when they get in his way. He also involves self-hurting activities at school and at home. The parents feel the client is stubborn and can hurt others if given a chance. Conversely, his teachers think that he is seeking attention from everyone around him and that he is not fit for learning. Problem behaviors often infringe on the activities of other people and bring disorder in the community (Lopez & Snyder, 2009).
Indirect Assessment Procedures: Their Use and Purpose
The Functional Behavioral Assessment Screening Form (FBASF)
A functional behavioral assessment screening form focuses on gathering information on the inter-individual and intra-individual strengths, the assessment of communication skills as well as the target behavior and its reinforcements (Roberts, 2005). This crucial semi-structured interview tool involves examining the client’s skills and strengths.
The client requires an assessment that focuses on his ability to handle the various events and the environment around him. Being a new student in the school, the teachers should be observant to know if a lack of individual strength is the trigger for the problem behavior. Communication skills are developed as one grows and matures. Children who have developmental difficulties may display the lack of such intra-individual and inter-individual strengths that promotes problem behaviors.
The Behavioral Stream Interview (BSI)
BSI entails understanding the sequence of the antecedents and consequences of the problem behavior of a client rather than understanding only a single situation. It seeks to determine the existing interaction between the contextual variables and the environment. According to Miltenberger (2008), the behavioral stream interview focuses on the flow of antecedents and consequences, as they occur to give a stream of the same. In this case, the client and the parents are interviewed to provide pertinent information.
The behavior analyst can involve the teachers and the child’s parents in providing the required feedback. The BSI ensures there is a clear understanding of how one behavior leads to another, which leads to the preceding consequences that maintain that behavior. Behavior cannot be understood in a single situation (Lopez & Snyder, 2009). In this case, the client’s disruptive and aggressive behavior should be monitored through a series of related antecedents, behavior, and consequences.
The Individual Variables Assessment Form (IVAF)
IVF is used in the early stages of FBA. It involves describing the individual variables or factors that influence problem behavior. These variables may include social skills, emotional or mental well-being, communication skills, academic skills, and personal sensitivity (Roberts, 2005). These factors influence the manner in which an individual interacts with their environment. It also forms a critical part of the SMIRC model.
Contextual considerations in functional behavior assessment include the individual variables that determine much about the occurrence of problem behavior, which could include factors in the client’s family, history, academic advancement, inner abilities, and the type of support available for him. In this case, the client should be handled with respect. The manifested behaviors could be a reflection of what is missing in his life. The necessity of this tool is to establish individual-based assessment that leads to effective interventions.
Directive Descriptive Tools/ Procedures
Task Difficulty Antecedent Analysis Form (TDAAF)
The purpose of this procedure is to determine specific difficult tasks and their intensity. It is used when other data collection procedures have proved that the presentation of a difficult task to the client is an antecedent to problem behavior. In this procedure, the various tasks should be identified and categorized according to their difficulty. The task difficulty antecedent analysis form is necessary for every task. The observer records the description of the context where the analysis occurred, the target behavior, and the specific task presented.
In a general learning institution, the gifted population of students may manifest problem behaviors due to various conditions including attention from their teachers and the level of difficulty of the tasks given (Crone & Horner, 2003). This procedure is relevant in this case because it establishes the condition under which the client engages in the problem behavior. The ability of a client to handle the task may prompt him to seek help. If the adaptive ways of seeking help are not taught, the problem behaviors will be manifested to increase his chances of getting help.
The Conditional Probability Record (CPR)
CPR is a procedure used to determine the likelihood of a target behavior being manifested after an event and the consequences of the target behavior. First, the analyst selects a specific target behavior and consequence to be observed. A follow-up should be done to view and record the time interval between the chosen event and its outcome.
A conclusive statement of the conditional probability record will indicate the probability of a client manifesting the problem behavior after the antecedent to achieve a specific outcome. For instance, in this case, there is a probability that the client will get aggressive and disrupt the teacher in a chemistry class where the teacher will give him attention or suspend him from the class. The purpose of this tool is to determine the timing of the specific antecedents, problem behavior, and consequences that lead to a prediction of when and how the client will behave in the future. The advantage of this tool is that effective interventions put in place target the modification of the environment at particular times and avoiding instances that promote the problem behavior.
Interval Recording Procedures (IRP)
According to Killu, Weber, Derby, and Barretto (2006), IRP gives a description of the inter-relationship between problem behavior, antecedent, and consequence. It focuses on determining the specific duration of problem behavior during predetermined time intervals. IP focuses on identifying the specific interferences to behavior that are related to the antecedent and consequences. The process entails identifying the procedures needed, identifying the predetermined intervals for the recording, designing the behavior recording form, and the actual recording process. A behavior analyst chooses to use this procedure in whole, partial or momentary intervals.
The analyst first defines the problem behavior, describes it accurately, and chooses the duration of observation. This method is easy and uses little energy to get the required information. The observer monitors the client in the specific predetermined time to determine whether he manifests the target behavior or not. The records made include problem behavior, the time at which it happened, the events at that time, and the consequence that preceded the behavior. Various interfering factors may include the setting of the events; the people present for instance teachers or particular students, and the time of behavior.
Problem behaviors in learning institutions are caused by various factors some of which may be unrelated to the children’s learning and attention needs. The variations could range from family issues to unique individual variables that trigger the problem behavior. Behavior analysts carry out functional behavior assessment that identifies the unique factors that cause problem behavior. The behavior intervention plan based on the findings of FBA is very effective because it is individually based. Incorporation of parents and teachers in a student’s therapy is also important in establishing the best strategies to help the student learn new behaviors and modify the environment to reduce triggers of the problem behavior.
Cooper, J., Heron, T., & Heward, W. (2007). Applied Behavior Analysis. New Jersey: Pearson Education.
Crone, D. A., & Horner, R. H. (2003). Building positive behavior support systems in schools: Functional behavioral assessment. New York, NY: Guilford Press.
Killu, K., Weber, K. P., Derby, K. M., & Barretto, A. (2006). Behavior intervention planning and implementation of positive behavioral support plans: An examination of states’ adherence to standards for practice. Journal of Positive Behavior Interventions, 8(4), 195-200.
Lopez, S. J., & Snyder, C. R. (Eds.). (2009). The Oxford handbook of positive psychology. Oxford University Press.
Miltenberger, R. (2008). Behavior modification. Belmont, CA. Wadsworth Publishing.
Roberts, A. R. (Ed.). (2005). Crisis intervention handbook: Assessment, treatment, and research. Oxford: Oxford University Press.