Functional assessments help us understand why children with autism exhibit certain behaviors and are an important step in your child’s autism treatment plan. These types of assessments are crucial to determining the function (or “why”) a behavior occurs. We’ve put together a parent’s guide to help parents and caregivers of children with autism understand what functional assessments are, how they influence your child’s treatment strategy, and what to expect during this type of assessment.
How Do Functional Behavior Assessments Inform Autism Treatment?
Applied Behavior Analysis, or ABA therapy, strives to reduce challenging behavior and encourage socially significant behaviors in children with autism. To effectively change behavior, behavior analysts need to figure out the “why” of a behavior. For example, if your child with autism hits her sibling when the sibling is playing with a toy, there may be several different reasons why, including:
- To get her sibling’s attention
- To signal that she wants the toy
- To feel the sensation of hitting
Depending on the function (or reason) of the behavior, therapists will develop interventions to help your child with autism replace or reduce the problem behavior. By identifying why your child is performing a behavior before developing an intervention plan, Trumpet can ensure the intervention targets your child’s underlying motivation.
What To Expect During A Functional Behavior Assessment
A Functional Assessment includes a set of procedures that help your therapy team understand why your child performs certain behaviors. The process involves:
- Interviewing your child, you, or another individual who has observed the behavior to gain a better understanding of why the behavior occurs. This is often referred to as an indirect assessment.
- Observing the problem behavior as it occurs in the natural environment. This firsthand observation is called a direct assessment.
- Evoking the behavior to drill down into the behavior’s function. In this type of assessment, therapists may arrange the environment to evoke the behavior under certain circumstances
Once the assessment is completed and your Trumpet team understands the “why” of a behavior, they’ll develop a treatment plan. The plan will focus on teaching your child something to do instead of the problem behavior. Using the example from above, if behavioral analysts determine that your child hits to signal they want the toy their sibling is playing with, the team may teach your child a verbal or nonverbal cue to ask for the toy instead of hitting.
Schedule A Functional Behavior Assessment Near You
Understanding the function of your child’s behavior is an important step in helping them reduce problem behavior. As your partner in autism treatment, Trumpet uses a collaborative, research-based assessment and treatment process to help your child reach their full potential. Find a location near you today, or contact us to learn more.