Functional Behaviour Assessments and Skill Based Treament

Reducing challenging behaviour using practical functional behaviour assessments and skill-based treatment

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When it comes to keeping children safe and out of harm’s way, it’s essential to have the skills and procedures in place to accommodate various types of learners - including children who have autism and other developmental disabilities.
What can schools and parents do when they witness challenging behaviours such as self-injurious behaviour and aggression that are commonly associated with autism and other intellectual disabilities?
Keep reading for further information on working with challenging behaviour and strategies for challenging behaviour. 

Practical Functional Assessments

The process of disseminating a practical means of determining the occasioning contexts and outcomes responsible for problem behaviours associated with autism is generally referred to as a functional assessment.

The process involves an informed interview with caregivers and those that work closley with the learner.

The process also involves functional behaviour analysis, usually occurring over one or two visits. 

Functional analysis involves practitioners changing what happens before and after the behaviour. This method can help to indicate what might be causing the behaviour and also predict when the behaviour will likely occur.

Practical functional assessments exist to identify the root cause of why problem behaviour exists. They are designed to be safe, dignified and centered on rapport building.

The process is collaborative and involves observation techniques, meaningful questions and analysis of a child’s skills and behaviours involved with everyday routines in various situations and settings.

Conducting a practical functional assessment is the first step to developing skill-based treatment.
Practical Functional Assesments - Challenging Behaviour Autism
Challenging Behaviour Autism
The practical functional assessment (also known as the IISCA - interview informed synthesises contingency analysis) involves a questionnaire with those directly in contact with the learner.

After that takes place, a functional analysis is completed where the function of behaviour is determined. Only then can skill-based treatment be designed. 

Practical function assessments are regarded as highly effective approaches to severe problem behaviour. The ultimate goal of this approach is to prevent the escalation of problem behaviour while teaching children replacement behaviours to suit their needs through an appropriate skill-based treatment suitable for each individual child. 

Skill-Based Treatment

Skill-based treatment follows directly after a practical functional assessment and is used to understand what is reinforcing a child’s problematic behaviour in order to teach them new skills that are safe and effective.

Skill-based treatment generally consists of teaching children various coping strategies such as frustration techniques, communication and a range of appropriate behaviours in multiple situations. These can include:
  • Giving up favourite items
  • Completing homework 
  • Playing with other children 
  • Following the rules of a game
  • Completing chores at home 
  • Engaging in self-care tasks 
Skill-based treatment can be highly effective for children exhibiting problem behaviour through repeated practice and skill-building with a trained professional.

The overall goal of practical functional assessments and skill-based treatment is to teach children to behave safely and productively in various settings and situations in life. 
Functional behaviour analysis
Strategies for challenging behaviour autism

Is this approach effective?

Peer-reviewed research has shown that Interview-Informed Synthesised Contingency Analysis (IISCA) is a quick, safe and reliable method for understanding more about why problem behaviour occurs in a child as well as providing treatments for eliminating problem behaviour and managing challenging behaviour while promoting skills at the same time.

We have seen children enjoy ABA sessions more, teach us how to serve them best and be calmer, more compliant learners. The process can take place over a couple of weeks or a couple of months - it is groundbreaking and life-changing for all involved. Through the provided website, parents and schools will have access to multiple resources such as:
  • Relevant publications 
  • PowerPoint slides
  • Workbooks
  • Interview Forms 
  • Narrated videos from behaviour analysts 
  • Materials designed to prevent problem behaviour 
  • Process rubrics
  • Links to peer-reviewed research 
All content is written, edited and managed by Gregory Hanley, PhD, BCBA-D and There Fiani, PhD, BCBA-D.
If you’re looking to support a child or young adult displaying severe problem behaviour, there is help available through practical functional assessments and skill-based treatments.

Contact us today for a friendly chat and see how we can help you.
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