Are these more special education acronyms?
Yes, they are. And knowing all about FBAs and BIPs is very important, especially if you have a child who displays challenging behaviors. Unfortunately, many parents do not understand…
⇒ what these items are
⇒ use them interchangeably
⇒ do not know their role in these documents.
But first what is a FBA and BIP?
An FBA or functional behavioral assessment is a method used for gathering information that identifies the function of the problem behavior and the events that predict the occurrence of the behavior.
In other words…
The function of the behavior is the purpose that the behavior serves (i.e. what happens or what does your child get when they exhibit the behavior). The events that predict the occurrence is what happens before the behavior occurs. This is called the antecedents, or conditions that precede the occurrence of the behavior.
Now that we have defined the function of the behavior and the antecedents, but it is also important to note another aspect of the FBA called consequences. Consequences are the events that follow the behavior. For instance, what exactly happens after the behavior occurs?
It is important to know these terms because this is the basis of a functional behavioral assessment. A FBA will find the purpose of the behavior because all behavior serves a purpose! Conducting a functional behavioral assessment is a quite simple process.
First, the problem behavior is identified. (What is exactly happening?)
Next, information is gathered about the problem behavior. (Who, what, when and how the behavior is occurring.)
Then, the team will assess the causes of the problem behavior. (Processing of the factors of the behavior occurs.)
And, the team will develop a hypothesis or theory about why the behavior is occurring. (What does your child get out of displaying the problem behavior?)
Finally, a BIP or behavior intervention plan is developed and implemented to address the problem behavior.
So, a good and well written FBA will include…
⇒ the definition of the problem behavior
⇒ what happens before (antecedents) when the behavior does or does not occur
⇒ consequences that maintain the behavior
⇒ a statement about the function of the behavior
The end of a functional behavioral assessment concludes with a behavior intervention plan or BIP. A BIP refers to the development of behavior change strategies that are based on the data gathered through the FBA and is directly linked to the function of the behavior.
Likewise, a well written BIP should:
⇒ decrease the problem behavior(s)
⇒ increase replacement behaviors
⇒ eliminate the consequences for maintaining the problem behavior
⇒ change what happens before (the antecedents) the behavior occurs
⇒ be derived from the FBA
You want to make sure that whatever interventions are put in place are based on the function of the behavior (the purpose the behavior serves) and NOT on increasing reinforcements for appropriate behaviors. For example, if your child is spitting in the classroom, the interventions listed in the BIP should address why your child is spitting, and not only increasing positive or negatives reinforcers (i.e. positive: stickers, computer time, sensory box; negative: time out, loss of privilege).
Because sometimes focusing only on reinforcers can actually reinforce the problem behavior or may not be reinforcing or powerful enough to tackle the problem behavior. This is why it is important to always monitor your child’s BIP to see if it is working.
What You Need to Know as a Parent
A FBA is conducted by members of the IEP team. One person does not conduct this assessment. You are part of the team, so your input should be included.
A FBA is only an assessment on the function of any inappropriate behaviors. It is not a comprehensive evaluation.
A BIP cannot be written if a FBA has not been conducted first.
Do not assume the function of a behavior based on another child. Every child is different and your child’s behavior may be the result of something else.
Always add your input and include what behaviors you are seeing in and outside the home.
Keep notes about your child’s behavior. This can help in the assessment process.
Monitor your child’s BIP. Many parents think that once a BIP is written, that is it. You want to make sure your child’s BIP is adjusted if any problems arise, in addition to it being updated at their annual IEP.
And most importantly, always speak up for your child. Remember you know your child the best!
Need a behavior resource?
Download your copy of Using Functional Behavioral Assessments and Behavior Intervention Plans. It includes helpful data sheets to assist your family with any problem behaviors.
Does your child have a BIP? How is it working?