Truly Functional FBAs and BIPs
By: Natalie Hulsey, M.Ed Special Education-Autism

When developing Functional Behavior Assessments and Behavior Intervention Plans, it can seem like a major science. However, even for the seasoned teacher, it is important to revert to basics when developing FBAs and BIPs that work.

Start with the FBA (Functional Behavior Assessment)
Begin with data collection: Gather direct and indirect data from multiple people in the child’s life and across multiple settings and times of day. Direct data may include observations and recording of Antecedent (what happened right before the behavior), Behavior (e.g. NOT “the child got mad” but “the child stomped their feet in rapid succession while yelling ‘No’ over and over”) and Consequence (what happened right after the behavior). This is also known as ABC data. Direct data may also include frequency, latency, and intensity. Getting input from the child in the form of preference assessments is also crucial for determining reinforcements. Indirect data might include interviews with teachers and parents, caretakers and therapists. It can also include rating scales. If the behavior is simply an annoyance to a teacher or a few other students, it may not be a behavior of concern.
The FBA records the direct and indirect data, describes the behaviors of concern and attempts to determine the ‘function’ of the behavior—in other words, it tries to answer the question “Why is the student doing this behavior?” Once we figure out the function, we can begin to change what is done prior to prevent the behavior, teach a replacement behavior, and determine what can be done in response to the behavior when it does occur or when the replacement occurs.

Develop the BIP (Behavior Intervention Plan)
The BIP separates functions of the behavior into 3 categories—this is extremely important when developing the BIP and functions must be simplified to remain objective and to address the behavior successfully. These categories are: Sensory, Attention Seeking/Obtain, Avoid/Escape. Once narrowed down, the team can determine what should be done to provide the student with what they need before the behavior happens, how to respond when the student does the replacement or undesired behavior, and how to teach the replacement behavior.

After the FBA and BIP—You’re Not Done!
Teachers, paraprofessionals and administrators may not know what they are looking at or how to use a BIP to support a student. General education teachers, special education teachers/inclusion teachers, paraprofessionals and other staff working with the student should meet to review the BIP and gain an understanding of what the replacement behaviors are, how they will be taught, and how to reinforce the replacement behaviors across settings. Role-play or providing scripted responses and visuals (and instruction on how to use them) can ensure the student is receiving a ‘same page’ response from all staff interacting with them. Also, don’t forget about transportation—speaking with bus drivers and monitors and providing them with scripted responses and visuals used may also be appropriate.


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