A functional behavioral assessment (FBA) is an evaluation mandated by the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) that assesses the behavioral problems of students with disabilities. This assessment attempts to determine the cause of the behavioral problems before the school takes disciplinary action against the student for engaging in disruptive behavior in the classroom. Essentially, it addresses when the student's behavioral problems are most likely to occur, what environment the disruptive behavior is likely to occur in, and why the disruptive behavior occurs.

How Is the Functional Behavioral Assessment Conducted?

There are three main methods used to determine the cause of behavior problems in a functional behavioral assessment:

  • Interviews and rating scales - Teachers, parents, and others who have experience with the child's behavior can offer insights to the cause of the behavioral problems. However, the functional behavioral assessment cannot rely solely on interviews and rating scales. This is probably the weakest method used in functional behavioral assessments.
  • Direct and systematic observation of the student's behavior - Directly observing the student's behavior when the behavioral problems occur may give some insight as to what leads to the behavior in the first place.
  • Manipulation of the environment to see how behavior changes - By changing aspects of the student's environment, it may be possible to see what triggers the negative behavior.

Who Conducts the Functional Behavioral Assessment?

The FBA is usually conducted by the same team of people as those who developed the student's Individualized Education Plan (IEP) or a similar team if the same team is unable to conduct the assessment. It is important that much of the assessment be done by people who know the student best - namely, his parents and teachers. However, the systematic observation and the environmental manipulation should be conducted by someone who is properly trained in using these methods to gather and evaluate information in order to get the most accurate and useful results.

What Happens Once I Have a Functional Behavioral Assessment for My Child?

Once your child has had a FBA, it is up to you and the rest of the IEP team to come up with a workable intervention strategy. The point of a FBA is to determine the cause of a student's misbehavior in order to prevent it from occurring in the first place. After determining the cause of the behavioral problems, you and the school must create an intervention plan that addresses the behavior problems and implements ways of dealing with them, either by controlling the environment or by using specific disciplinary measures to address the problem.

Should I Contact a Lawyer?

If you have questions about your child's functional behavioral assessment, or if you believe that the school has not respected your child's rights, you may want to speak with a government lawyer. An experienced lawyer can inform you of the rules and laws of your school district, and can ensure that your rights and the rights of your child are protected.