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Functional Behavior Assessments (FBAs)

Functional Behavior Assessments (FBAs)

Autism Functional Behavior Assessment (FBA) for Healthcare Professionals

At Trumpet Behavioral Health, our Board Certified Behavior Analysts (BCBAs) use the well-established procedures of functional behavior assessment to identify the functions of behavior, which then guide the development and selection of appropriate treatment. Functional behavior assessment methods look beyond the topography or form of behavior and focus instead upon identifying the function and environmental contingencies that maintain or contribute to a target behavior.

Our group of professionals with specialized training in autism design treatments that work for healthcare professionals.

Trumpet Behavioral Health Assessment

In our work helping healthcare professionals treat children with autism, we recommend beginning with an extensive evaluation of the child’s current communication, pre-academic, social and self-help skills. Such a comprehensive assessment forms the basis for the child’s Individualized Education Program/Plan (IEP). Our assessments include:

  • Verbal Behavior Milestones Assessment and Placement Program (VB-MAPP)
  • Assessment of Basic Language and Learning Skills – Revised (ABLLS-R)
  • Functional Behavior Assessment (FBA)


There are several common behavioral analytic assessments that are empirically validated for use in developing an Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) treatment program for autism. They include the Functional Behavior Assessment (FBA), the Assessment Of Basic Language And Learning Skills-Revised (ABLLS-R), the Basic Language Assessment and the Preference Assessment.

After the assessments are finished, the Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) will create a treatment plan, train other autism therapy specialists, and provide consultation and oversight. The autism intervention plan will be implemented by the autism therapist, who will also be responsible for collecting the data necessary to evaluate the interventions once they’re in place.

Functional Behavior Assessment (FBA)

Healthcare professionals are well versed in deciphering the true meaning behind symptoms or behavior in medical cases. The same tenet holds true in helping people on the autism spectrum. As one expert noted, “Before you begin any treatment plan you must be able to understand the function of (a) child’s behavior. What is he trying to tell you? Once you are able to analyze the function of your child’s behavior, you will then be able to treat it.” The Functional Behavior Assessment (FBA), used as part of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), is designed to help healthcare professionals uncover the function of behavior which then guides the development and selection of appropriate treatment.

Once the function of a behavior is understood, the Trumpet Behavioral Health behavior specialist will create interventions that include teaching replacement behaviors that serve the same or similar functions as the target behavior as well as developing strategies to decrease the maladaptive behaviors. The functional behavior assessment allows the team of healthcare professionals and behavior therapists to identify and design a plan to decrease problem behaviors and increase appropriate behaviors.

What A Functional Behavior Assessment (FBA) Does

  • Enables a hypothesis about relations between the environment and the problem behavior
  • Gathers information about the function of the behavior
  • Identifies reinforcers that maintain the behavior and uses this information as a basis for intervention efforts
  • Fosters proactive, positive autism interventions

Functions of Behavior

There may be several reasons a child or adolescent maintains a problem behavior, including attention, escape/avoidance access to reinforcers. To properly address and develop an intervention for a behavior, it’s important for healthcare professionals to determine the behavior’s function by examining the environment in which it occurs. Once the goal of the inappropriate behavior is identified, the Trumpet Behavioral Health behavior specialist can work with the team of healthcare professionals to create an autism intervention plan that will reduce the maladaptive behavior.

Healthcare professionals should keep in mind that interventions for problem behavior are developed according to the behavior’s function, not only on the behavior itself. For example, a child may scream to escape a task, to obtain a tangible item (e.g., candy), to get attention and/or because they enjoy the sensation or sound that screaming creates. Although screaming is one behavior, it can serve many functions. A Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) will work closely with the team of healthcare professionals to develop a different intervention for each function. This helps ensure that the intervention is not counterproductive.