Indirect Assessments

Functional Behavior Assessment

A functional behavior assessment (FBA) is a systematic approach to inferring the function of a behavior based on contextual clues.  The methods of FBAs and the RBTs role in assisting with the assessment will be discussed in the topics that follow.

FBAs are comprised of several techniques.  These techniques are categorized as direct and indirect methods.

Indirect Methods

Assessment methods are considered indirect when they do not involve direct observation of the behavior.  Rather, these methods ask others who are familiar with the behavior to report on their observations.  Indirect methods are easy to collect and do not take much time to analyze.  The drawback of indirect assessment is that they are less objective because they involve the observations of another person.

Structured Interviews

Many FBAs begin with structured interviews of the client’s caretakers and teachers.  Interviews provide information about the behavior that may be helpful to the assessment.  For example, interviews will provide information about the activities, time of day, and location of the target behavior.  This information tells the behavior analyst when to observe so that there is a good chance of seeing an occurrence of the target behavior.  Another useful piece of information provided by interviews is with regard to the behavior’s history.  The interview may reveal that the target behavior only occurs with individuals who provide a certain response and occurs less with individuals who do not provide that response.

  • How have others responded to the behavior?
  • What techniques have been tried to address the behavior?
  • What was the response to these techniques?

In addition to the target behavior, the interview provides information on the occurrence of appropriate behavior.  This information may reveal patterns that predict appropriate behavior as well as the target behavior.  For example, if a child makes himself throw up during the dinner meal but not during lunch, this is a clue as to the factors that predict the throwing up behavior.  It may be as simple as the time of day or it could have something to do with the person who is feeding him or the types of foods he is eating.  Perhaps his lunch meal is cold and his dinner is hot.  If this is the case, the solution could be as simple as changing the temperature of his dinner foods.

Behavior Rating Scales

Rating scales ask the individual to rate how often they estimate the behaviors under various conditions.  This is a “self-report” measure, which means that the data are the estimates of an observer and not actual observations.  These are the perceptions of the individual, which are bias is some ways.  For example, if the parent completes a rating scale on the target behavior after a real bad day of behaviors, he or she is more likely to select higher ratings than completing the form after a couple days of very few behaviors.

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Course Resource

FBA Indirect Assessment Resource

The example below is an FBA structured interview.  This interview also shares characteristics of a behavior rating scale as it asks the interviewee to rate occurrence of the behavior.
[button linking=”new_window” link=”” align=”left” size=”medium” style=solid” title=”Caregiver Survey”] Caregiver Survey [/button]

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