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Housekeeping. Sign in with time. Only sign out as you leave. Cell phones easy to grab and silent Cut out a puzzle piece and laminate student pic. More……. Reply to Emails to let us know that you are receiving them. Honor each others suggestions. 45 second Rule No Side bars.

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  • Sign in with time.
  • Only sign out as you leave.
  • Cell phones easy to grab and silent
  • Cut out a puzzle piece and laminate student pic.
  • Reply to Emails to let us know that you are receiving them.
  • Honor each others suggestions.
  • 45 second Rule
  • No Side bars

Please study the following slide carefully.

You should see two identical dolphins

diving simultaneously in the ocean.

If not, it may indicate that you are under

stress and need a couple of days off.



      • Expressive deficits
      • Problems with intent as well as means
      • Receptive deficits
      • Problems with meaning and processing
      • Integration and modulation of inputs
      • Limited interests, repetitive behavior, rigidity
        • Organization
        • Sequencing & planning
        • attention & relevance
        • abstraction & generalization


  • Social communication
  • Need for sameness
  • Distractibility
  • Sequencing
  • Relevance
  • Organization
  • Understanding of time
  • Perseveration
  • Social understanding
  • Concrete
  • Central Coherence
  • Executive Functioning
  • Generalization
  • Motivation
  • Confusion
  • Anxiety
case study activity
Case Study Activity


  • Review the iceberg slide
  • On your FBA form list underlying characteristics that pertain to your student


  • With your table group, a few of your student’s underlying characteristics
  • Each person take two minutes.
how many of you
“How many of you….”
  • Have participated in behavior intervention planning meetings?
  • Used functional assessment information to develop behavior intervention plan?
  • Conducted functional assessment….Informally? Formally?
  • Know why functional assessments are conducted?
paradigm shift
Paradigm Shift
  • To thinking differently
    • From the problem is within the child
    • To the problem is due to a breakdown in the teaching and learning interaction

Atlas & Rita-Nelson 2009


Guiding Principles

Human Behavior is important, understandable, and predictable.

Human Behavior is malleable or changeable.

Human behavior occurs within an environmental context, not in a vacuum.

Human behavior is learned and can be taught/affected by manipulating aspects of the environmental context.

Source: Crone , D.A. & Horner, R.H., 2003

a context for positive behavior support
A Context for Positive Behavior Support
  • Aredesign of environments, not the redesign of individuals
  • Develop a Plan that describes what we will do differently
  • Plan is based on identification of the behavioral function of problem behaviors and the lifestyle goals of an individual

Atlas and Rita-Nelson 2009

bottom line


Students with Autism Spectrum Disorders



fba big ideas
  • A process to improve our understanding of problem behavior so we can develop more efficient, effective & relevant behavior support plans.
  • Identification of events that reliably predict the occurrence & non-occurrence of problem behaviors.

Adapted from T. Scott, U of Florida Gainesville

what is fba
What is FBA?

A systematic process for developing statements about factors that;

contribute to occurrence & maintenance of problem behavior

more importantly, serve as basis for developing proactive & comprehensive behavior support plans.

Atlas & Rita-Nelson 2009

fba evidence base
FBA Evidence Base
  • The NPDC on ASD found evidence for the use of FBA for:
    • Ages: 3-15
    • Developmental Domains of:
      • Behavior
      • Communication

The National Professional Development Center on Autism Spectrum Disorders

primary purpose
Primary Purpose
  • to improve the effectivenessand efficiencyof behavior support.
      • Behavior support plans built from functional assessment are more effective Didden et al., 1997,Carr et al., 1999
  • To create order out of chaos (define contextual information, where, when, with whom, etc)
  • Professional accountability (IDEA, 2004)

Atlas & Rita-Nelson 2009

what the law says
What the Law Says….

Kentucky Administrative Regulations 

Special Education Programs

707 KAR 1:002 – 707 KAR 1:380Revised August 26, 2008

  • “(6) A child with a disability who is removed from the child’s current placement for more than ten (10) consecutive school days shall: (a) Continue to receive a free, appropriate public education so as to enable the child to continue to participate in the general curriculum, although in another setting, and to progress toward meeting the goals set out in the child’s IEP; and (b) Receive, as appropriate, a functional behavioral assessment, and behavioral intervention services, and modifications, that are designed to address the behavior violation so that it does not recur.”

Section 13: Discipline Procedures p.36

what the law says1
What the Law Says…

Kentucky Administrative Regulations

Special Education Programs

707 KAR 1:002 – 707 KAR 1:380Revised August 26, 2008

  • “(4) If the ARC determines that the conduct was a manifestation of the child’s disability, the ARC shall: (a)1. Conduct a functional behavioral assessment, unless the LEA had conducted a functional behavioral assessment before the behavior that resulted in the change of placement occurred and had implemented a behavioral intervention plan for the child; or 2. Review the behavioral intervention plan, (if one had already been developed) and modify it, as necessary, to address the behavior;”

Section 14: Manifestation Determination p.36


Pos Reinf

Neg Reinf

Atlas & Rita -Nelson 2009

functional approach logic
Functional Approach Logic

Behaviors are maintained by consequence events (function)

Positive or negative reinforcement

Behaviors are occasioned by antecedent events

Relate antecedent to emission of behavior & likelihood of consequence event

Changing behaviors requires consideration of maintaining consequences

Atlas & Rita-Nelson 2009

outcome of fba
Outcome of FBA
  • Operational description of the problem behavior
  • Data Collection
  • Identification of the consequences that maintain the behavior
  • Prediction of the times and situations when the behavior will and will not occur
  • Development of hypotheses

Atlas and Rita-Nelson 2009

classic pitfalls
Classic Pitfalls

Identify one function per problem behavior. It is not a smorgasbord. Find the thing, that, if you took it away, the problem behavior would stop happening.

Narrow the focus. Pick no more than three (3) problem behaviors (or classes of problem behaviors) and deal with those first. We cannot effectively deal with 25 problem behaviors at once.

Atlas and Rita-Nelson 2009

basic terms
Basic Terms

Maintaining Consequences:

What sequence of events, reliably predicts the problem behavior?

What happens immediately after the problem behavior?

What is the child trying to GET or GET AWAY from?

Get social attention

Get objects/access to activities

Get sensory stimulation

Avoid aversive task/activity

Avoid aversive social contact

Avoid aversive sensory stimulation

identifying maintaining consequences
Identifying Maintaining Consequences:

Listen For… Ask About… Investigate…



Social reaction/attention

Proximity of contact

Changes the sequence of activities/routines

Clarifies expectations

Increases assistance from adults or peers

Access to materials, activities, food/drink

Sensory stimulation or reduction

Changes the physical environment

Allows space or movement

Delays activity/event

Avoids negative peer attention, ridicule

basic terms1
Basic Terms

Antecedent Events(Fast Triggers):

Analyze routines in the student’s day to identify…

What sequence of events reliably predicts the problem behavior?

Where, when, with whom the problembehavior occurs?

Where, when, with whomdesirable behavior is more likely to occur?

What events, contexts, demands, tasks, people reliably trigger/precede the behavior?

identifying antecedent events fast triggers
Identifying Antecedent Events:Fast Triggers

Listen For… Ask About… Investigate…

Under what circumstances is the behavior most/least likely.

Changes in the environment

Availability & organization of materials

Opportunity for choices

Times of day/activities

Clarity of expectations

Reinforcement of expected behavior

Nature of interactions (tone, proximity, contact)

Amount & type of attention (peer, groups, adult)

Access and quality of assistance, supervision

Activity/task clarity

Student’s ability matched to the tasks assigned

Length of engagement

Pace of instruction

Hunger, fatigue, thirst, discomfort

basic terms setting events
Basic Terms: Setting Events

Slow Triggers - Removed in Time

What sequence of events reliably predicts the problem behavior?

Events Removed in time that influence the behavior…

What distal events tend to predict when the problem behavior will occur later?

identifying setting events slow triggers
Identifying Setting EventsSlow Triggers

Listen For… Ask About… Investigate…

Broader Issues that maybe influencing behavior

Daily activity schedule

Predictability of routines

Variety of activities or materials

Social relationships

Preferences of the student

History of intervention

History of academic success & failure

Medical and physical issues (nutrition, illness, medications, sleep patterns)


Slow Triggers

global, quality of life variables

Slow triggers are events that may occur before and/or during the targeted behavior that causes the student to respond to a “typical” situation in an “atypical” way.

They are specific conditions, events, or activities that make the problem behavior worse but do not cause the behavior problem?


environmental setting events
Environmental Setting Events


Quality of Life


Home Environment

Level of Curriculum

Instructional Arrangements


personal factors as setting events
Personal Factors as Setting Events




Chronic Illness



Sensory Sensitivity

setting events examples
Setting Events Examples
  • Relationships with Others

Kevin is more likely to put his head down and close his book when he has been reprimanded by a teacher earlier in the day.

Darrel is more likely to use profanities when a friend or peer group is present.

When Carla has spent the weekend at her father’s house, and her morning routine has been hurried, she is more likely to talk back to teachers and refuse to do what she is asked.

Setting Events

help explain the problem behavior-but do not excuse it, or excuse school personnel from developing interventions.



      • Expressive deficits
      • Problems with intent as well as means
      • Receptive deficits
      • Problems with meaning and processing
      • Integration and modulation of inputs
      • Limited interests, repetitive behavior, rigidity
        • Organization
        • Sequencing & planning
        • attention & relevance
        • abstraction & generalization
function based support is all about
Function-based support is all about…

Re-design & improvementof learning & teaching environments

Attention to environment & function

Not re-design of individuals

Change in behavior of implementers of plan

Atlas and Rita-Nelson 2009

outli ne
  • Overview of FBA
  • Functions for Challenging Behavior
  • Steps for Conducting a FBA
functional behavior assessment
Functional Behavior Assessment

Power of FBA for teachers

It addresses contextual variables that affect student’s behavior, variables that a teacher may be able to control

It may result in more powerful intervention

Prepared by KATC January 2010

power of fba for teachers
Power of FBA for teachers
  • It may result in more reinforcement-based interventions

(Cooper Heron & Heward, 2007)

  • It provides active involvement in a process

FBA is much more than a form!

Prepared by KATC January 2010

functional behavior assessment fba
Functional Behavior Assessment (FBA)

Outcomes of FBA

Description of the problem behavior

Identification of the events, times, circumstances that are regularly associated with the occurrence and non occurrence of the problem behavior

(O’Neill et al., 1997)

Prepared by KATC January 2010

important considerations
Important Considerations
  • FBA is a team process
  • BIP’s based upon an FBA are more effective than those done without an FBA
  • Topography of behavior can be the same for several students, but the function of the behavior can be different for each of the students.

Atlas and Rita-Nelson 2009

functional behavior assessment fba1
Functional Behavior Assessment (FBA)

Outcomes of FBA

  • Identification of the consequences that maintain the behavior
  • Development of a summary statement or hypothesis regarding the function or purpose of the behavior

(O’Neill et al., 1997)

Prepared by KATC January 2010

fba s purpose
FBA’s: Purpose
  • The purpose of conducting an FBA is to develop a behavior intervention plan (BIP) that encourages the individual to engage in alternative pro social behaviors (replacement behaviors) that serve the same function as the problem behavior and make necessary environment arrangements to prevent problem behavior from occurring (Horner, 1994)
  • BIPs based on FBAs are effective for individuals of all ages and all functioning levels (Hanley, Piazza, Fisher, & Maglieri, 2005)

Scott 2009

defining functional behavior assessment
Defining Functional Behavior Assessment
  • A function means that the behavior serves a purpose for the individual. 
  • Behavior functions to make some desired change in the environment. 
  • The FBA approach is built on the premise that before planning intervention to address challenging behaviors, information about the nature of the problem behavior and the environmental contexts in which the behavior is observed is essential (Sugai et al., 1999).
  • Thus, FBA is a method of assessing the relationship between the environment and behavior (O\'Neill et al., 1997).

Scott 2009

steps for conducting a fba
Steps for Conducting a FBA
  • Establishing a Team
  • Selecting a Target Behavior
  • Collect Baseline Data
  • Develop a Hypothesis for the Function of the Behavior (Triangulate the Data to Form a Hypothesis)
  • Test the hypothesis
  • Design behavior intervention plans (BIP)
  • Implement, monitor, evaluate outcomes and refine plan in natural environments
  • FBA packet
  • Step by Step Instructions
  • Implementation Checklist
multidisciplinary team
Multidisciplinary Team

The “Players”:

  • Student’s teachers

(special education, general education)

Where interfering behaviors occur

  • Related service personnel (special-language pathologist, OT, behavioral therapist, psychologist, etc)

Those that have regular contact with the student

  • Paraprofessional(s)

Those who work directly with the student

  • parents
selecting a target behavior
Selecting a Target Behavior
  • Target behaviors are challenging behaviors that are having a negative impact on the individual displaying them and/or others
  • Target behaviors must be defined in ways that are observable and measurable
  • The next slide shows examples and non-examples of possible target behaviors for students with ASD

Scott 2009

selecting a target behavior1
Selecting a Target Behavior
  • It is helpful to collaborate with the people who spend the most time with the student and create a list of challenging behaviors
  • You may then choose to create “classes,” or groups, of behaviors
    • For example, you may have a class of aggressive behaviors that entail hitting, kicking, and spitting. You may also have a class of non-compliant behaviors such as not following directions, talking back, and failure to begin tasks.
    • But, not all target behaviors will belong to a class of behaviors. For example, a target behavior may simply be running away from adults

Scott 2009

selecting target behaviors
Selecting Target Behaviors
  • To determine which behavior or class of behaviors to target, the following questions can help in the decision making process:
    • Is the behavior dangerous to the child or to others?
    • Is the behavior disruptive on a frequent basis or to an intense level?
    • Does the behavior interfere with socialization or acceptance from peers?
    • Does the behavior interfere with learning, either academic or social?
    • Will decreasing this behavior result in positive outcomes for the child?

Scott 2009

selecting a target behavior2
Selecting a Target Behavior
  • You may choose to prioritize the behaviors on the list and begin addressing the first priority, the second, and so on.
  • It is important to note, however, that you do not necessarily have to select the most severe behavior to address first.
    • For example, it may be that focusing on decreasing off-task behaviors at school will also decrease aggression. Thus, it may be appropriate to begin with a less severe behavior such as off-task behaviors as you may see decreases in other more severe challenging behaviors while doing so.

Scott 2009

the team then determines
The team then determines:
  • how long the behavior has been interfering with the learner’s development and learning.
  • if the behavior involves aggression or damage to property.
  • if the behavior might be the result of environmental factors (e.g., lighting, noise level). For example, what is unique about the environment(s) where the behavior does not occur? What is unique about the environment where the behavior does occur? Does the behavior occur more often under a specific set of circumstances (e.g., during transitions, in the hallway)?

if the interfering behavior might occur because learners are being asked to demonstrate a skill that they cannot perform (e.g., language/ communication, social). For example, does the learner not know how to use skills needed in a particular setting or activity? Or is the learner able to use needed skills, but not consistently?

e. when and where the behavior is occurring. For example, what is different about the environment(s) where the behavior does occur (e.g., number of other students at the activity, time of day)?

f. other behaviors the learner exhibits immediately before the behavior occurs (antecedents).

g. what happens immediately after the interfering behavior occurs (consequences).

operational definitions
Operational definitions

A behavior is defined in a clear, objective, and concise manner.

Three ways to test a definition:

  • Can you count the number of times a behavior occurs or how long it takes to perform
  • Can you see the individual performing the behavior when it occurs
  • Can you break down the target behavior in to smaller components (the answer should be No)

Morris, 1985

Prepared by KATC January 2010

operational definition
Operational Definition
  • Watch the video and record the frequency of ear touching based on the following definition
  • Ear touching: The individual touches either of his ears with any part of his hand.

Prepared by KATC January 2010


Prepared by KATC January 2010

collect baseline data
Collect Baseline Data
  • It is important to collect baseline data on the target behavior for two main reasons:
    • Determine if the defined target behavior occurs often or intensely enough to warrant conducting a FBA
    • Have pre-intervention data that can be compared to data collected during the implementation of the BIP to determine the effectiveness of the plan

Scott 2009

functions for challenging behavior
Functions for Challenging Behavior
  • There are two major functions for challenging behavior
    • to gain access to something
    • to escape from/avoid something (Scott & Caron, 2005)
  • However, there are multiple ways of looking at functions within those two categories
  • The next slide shows a table with examples related to the two main functions for challenging behaviors

Scott 2009

our kids
Our Kids
  • Cognitive Level
  • Communication Level
  • Social Skills
  • Likes/Dislikes
  • Self Help Skills
first level of fba indirect assessment
First level of FBA: Indirect Assessment


  • A determination that a problem behavior is occurring and a FBA is required.
  • Determination of routines in which problem behaviors occur.
  • Operational definition of the problem behavior.

Prepared by KATC January 2010

indirect assessment methods
Indirect Assessment: Methods

These tools do not require systematic direct observation of the student


  • reviewing previous and current records
  • Interviews (formal & informal)—FAST
  • rating scales
  • Checklists
  • standardized tests

Prepared by KATC January 2010

functional behavior assessment interview
Functional Behavior Assessment Interview
  • An FBA Interview entails conducting interviews with as many individuals as appropriate to acquire information about the student’s target behavior across a variety of contexts.
  • The interview should consist of questions related to under what conditions the behavior is most likely to occur, least likely to occur, and what typically happens before, during and after the behavior.
  • The individual being interviewed should be given an opportunity at the end of the conversation to state why they believe the behavior is occurring.
  • The following link from the Center for Effective Collaboration and Practice (CECP) provides an example of an interview form that can be used when conducting FBA’s:

Scott 2009

indirect assessment interviews
Indirect Assessment: Interviews
  • Interview the individual exhibiting the problem behavior
  • Interview significant others
  • It is important to keep to the “when” and “what”, The “why” may be more subject to distortion as it is not observable.

Prepared by KATC January 2010


Formal Interviews

    • Functional Assessment Interview (FAI; O’Neill et al. 1997)

Informal Interviews

  • Consider interviewers knowledge of FBA & ability to develop situation specific scenarios

Prepared by KATC January 2010


Prepared by KATC January 2010

one tool for fba interviews
One Tool for FBA Interviews


  • Gathering data to build an hypothesis statement.
  • Interview the person(s) who knows the student best.
  • 20-40 min interview
  • Use the interview for “basic questions” and “follow up questions”
    • Follow up to test and clarify initial responses


indirect assessment
Indirect Assessment

Checklists and Rating Scales

Prepared by KATC January 2010

checklist and rating scales
Checklist and Rating Scales


  • The respondents actual knowledge about the target student
  • Obtaining responses from multiple persons that work with the student

Prepared by KATC January 2010

checklist and rating scales1
Checklist and Rating Scales


  • Functional Assessment Screening Tool (FAST; Iwata & DeLeon, 1996)
  • Motivation Assessment Scale (MAS; Durand & Crimmins, 1992)
  • Problem Behavior Questionnaire (PBQ; Lewis, Scott, & Sugai, 1994)

Prepared by KATC January 2010

indirect assessment advantages
Indirect Assessment: Advantages
  • Convenience
  • Identification of behaviors worthy of more direct and intensive assessment

(Cooper, Heron, & Heward, 2007)

Prepared by KATC January 2010

indirect assessment disadvantages
Indirect Assessment: Disadvantages
  • Bias/inaccurate recall
  • Limited data support
  • Low rates of reliability
  • Some tools may have a clinical tone

Prepared by KATC January 2010

activity fba interview handout
Activity: FBA interview handout
  • Complete the interview form for your chosen case study student.
  • Make note of any information that you do not know and determine who to interview.

Prepared by KATC January 2010

direct assessment
Direct Assessment

Direct and repeated observations of the student’s behavior in the natural environment are the preferred method for determining which behaviors to target for change

Prepared by KATC January 2010

  • Horner ABC data collection form
  • Scatter Plot
direct observation
Direct Observation
  • Based on the information gathered during the FBA Interviews, direct observations should be conducted to accurately identify antecedents and consequences associated with the behavior and likely functions of the behavior. (Calloway & Simpson, 1998)
  • A-B-C data collection and scatter plots are two effective procedures for gathering information related to the function of target behaviors.

Scott 2009

methods of data collection
Methods of Data Collection
  • Anecdotal reports
  • Scatter Plot
  • A-B-C data
  • Frequency data
  • Duration Data

The National Professional Development Center on Autism Spectrum Disorders

anecdotal records
Anecdotal Records
  • Purpose is to record all behavior as it occurs
  • Provides a context for the occurrence of the behavior in the natural environment
  • Report should be based on actual events not perceptions of events
  • Must account for reactivity (the effect the observer has on behavior)
collect baseline data1
Collect Baseline Data
  • The method for collecting data will depend on the target behavior selected
  • The next slide shows a table of the different types of data collection procedures with explanations for implementation
  • To view actual data sheet samples for each procedure presented, ask a special education teacher, behavior analyst, or school psychologist who is responsible for conducting FBAs to share the ones they use with you

Scott 2009

direct observation1
Direct Observation


  • Know whom and what behavior you’re observing
  • Observe long enough to get a “representative sample”
    • Across contexts
    • Multiple team members
  • Try to remain unobtrusive
  • Pay attention!

The National Professional Development Center on Autism Spectrum Disorders

a b c data collection
A-B-C Data Collection
  • The A in the A-B-C model refers to antecedents (events that take place before the behavior occurs)
  • The B in the A-B-C model refers to target behavior that follows the antecedent
  • The C in the A-B-C Model represents consequences (these are events that take place after the behavior occurs)

Scott 2009

analyzing a b c data collection
Analyzing A-B-C Data Collection
  • When analyzing the information from the A-B-C data collection you should look for:
    • how frequently the challenging behavior occurs
    • consistent patterns of reinforcement or punishment of the behavior
    • identifiable antecedents of the behavior (patterns to the antecedents)
    • recurring chains of specific antecedents, behaviors, and consequences

(Alberto & Troutman, 1999)

Scott 2009

a b c data form
A-B-C Data Form

Scott 2009


Watch the following video and record ABC Narrative Data

Prepared by KATC January 2010

  • Period of time is divided into smaller intervals.
  • The observer records whether or not a behavior occurs within a given interval.
  • Data are analyzed for temporal patterns

Prepared by KATC January 2010

scatter plots
Scatter Plots
  • Scatter plots allow the observer to identify patterns of behavior that relate to specific conditions.
  • The observer records the amount of times the behavior occurs at the identified times and locations on a chart or grid.
  • If it would be helpful to determine when and where the behavior is occurring the most often and least often then using a scatter plot would be appropriate.
    • For example, if a middle school student is yelling out during instruction, it may be necessary to use a scatter plot to determine in what classes does the behavior happen most often or what portions of the class period does the behavior occur most often to assist in determining a hypothesis for the function of the behavior.
  • The following link from CECP provides a variety of examples of scatter plots:

Scott 2009


Prepared by KATC January 2010


Prepared by KATC January 2010



Identification of time when to conduct more in-depth analyses


Has limited utility in identifying relevant environmental stimuli

Subject to inaccuracies

Time consuming

Cooper, Heron, & Heward, 2007

Prepared by KATC January 2010


Teachers/practitioners use indirect and direct assessment results to identify:

  • a. where the behavior is happening.
  • b. with whom the behavior is occurring.
  • c. when the behavior is happening.
  • d. activities during which the behavior occurs.
  • e. what other students are doing when the behavior starts.
  • f. what teachers/adults are doing when the behavior starts.
  • g. proximity of other students, teachers, and/or adults.
  • h. the noise level in the environment.
  • i. the number of individuals in the area.
  • j. other environmental conditions (e.g., lighting, door open/closed).
  • k. the function of the behavior. Behaviors fall into two categories of function:
    • • to get or obtain something desired: obtain internal stimulation (wanting something because it feels good), obtain attention, obtain activities or objects or
    • • to escape or avoid: internal stimulation (not wanting something because it feels bad), escape or avoid attention, avoid tasks or activities.
    • The National Professional Development Center on Autism Spectrum Disorders

In the case of severe self injury or aggression, a thorough medical evaluation should be conducted to rule out possible sources of discomfort, illness, or other chronic conditions that may exacerbate the behavior.

The National Professional Development Center on Autism Spectrum Disorders

triangulating the data
Triangulating the Data
  • At least three sources of information should be used to develop the hypothesis as opposed to simply relying on information collected from interviews or A-B-C data alone.
  • This process is called data triangulation.
  • The following link from CECP provides examples of charts that can be used to show data triangulation:

Scott 2009

forming a hypothesis
Forming a Hypothesis
  • A hypothesis should address the purpose the behavior serves for the student, how the behavior is related to setting events, antecedents and consequences, and may also include information about skill deficits (Scheuermann & Webber, 2002)
  • For example, a hypothesis that states, “William runs out of the classroom to avoid work,” is not very specific.
  • Instead the hypothesis may state, “William runs out of his science and math classrooms when given directions to go to his designated work group to avoid working collaboratively and socially interacting with peers.”
  • This hypothesis statement addresses the function for the behavior (avoiding work), how it is related to setting events, antecedents, and consequences (math and science classes, working collaboratively with peers), and skill deficits in social interaction.

Scott 2009

features of hypothesis statement
Features of Hypothesis Statement

“Best guess” about behavior & conditions under which it is observed

Composed of (a) problem behavior, (b) triggering antecedent, (c) maintaining consequences, & (d) setting events.

Represents basic working unit of FBA

forming a hypothesis1
Forming a Hypothesis
  • When triangulating the data, you may deduct that the target behavior has multiple functions. Here are some examples:
    • A student may engage in self-injurious behaviors to gain attention and to escape difficult tasks
    • A student may engage in vocal “stims” to gain sensory stimulation during times when he is disengaged and to get attention from the teacher

Scott 2009

anatomy of an hypothesis statement
Anatomy of an Hypothesis Statement

“When ______________________________,

(summarize the antecedents here)

he/she will _______________________

(summarize the problem behavior here)

in order to____________________________.”

(summarize the function here)

formulating a hypothesis
Formulating a hypothesis
  • Data from descriptive assessments are analyzed and a hypothesis is developed
  • Written in an ABC format

Prepared by KATC January 2010

test the hypothesis
Test the Hypothesis
  • Modify the environment so there is an increased likelihood the behavior will occur

NOTE: An important step in the FBA process is to test the hypothesis to ensure that it is correct, as long as there is no risk of injury or damage. If the behavior involves risk of injury or damage, then proceed to Step 6.

The National Professional Development Center on Autism Spectrum Disorders


Testable Hypothesis

“Basic Unit”

Setting Events







  • “Best guess” about behavior & conditions under which it is observed
  • Represents basic working unit of FBA
  • Directly guides development of BIP
  • It is important to note, that a FBA should not exist without the purpose of developing a Behavior Intervention Plan (BIP)
  • In other words, a FBA is not intended to be an intervention in and of itself (Nelson, Roberts, Mathur, & Rutherford, 1999)
  • Conducting a FBA allows school staff to make informed decisions related to the function of a student’s behavior for purposes of developing effective BIPs.

Scott 2009