Functional Behaviour Assessment for a Student with Autism: Evaluation of a Training Program for Teachers and Education Program Assistants

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Carter, Rebecca D.
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Mount Saint Vincent University
With the education system moving towards an inclusive learning environment, more children with disabilities, including autism, have been included in regular education classrooms and schools. Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder with significant impairments in social interaction, communication, and the presence of restricted, repetitive and stereotyped patterns of behaviour, interests, and activities. This move, while having positive results on the students, has caused some concerns around the best practices for dealing with challenging behaviours in the classroom. One method. Functional Behaviour Assessment (FBA), has been widely recognized as a promising practice for providing proactive interventions with students who exhibit challenging behaviours. FBA has also been shown to be an effective method for linking assessment to intervention. This is an important tool when developing Behaviour Support Plans (BSP). A Behaviour Support Plan is a written document that summarizes the information obtained from the Functional Behavior Assessment and outlines the intervention plan. As children with autism are at a particular risk for developing challenging and disruptive behaviours that interfere with their educational progress, FBA is an effective tool for developing Behaviour Support Plans that decrease challenging behaviours, while increasing prosocial behaviours. However, there are concerns regarding the use of FBA practices and procedures within the school system. These concerns include the amount of time needed to perform a complex assessment and lack of training by those responsible for conducting the assessment. This study evaluated whether training school personnel in Functional Behaviour Assessment would lead to the development of a Behaviour Support Plan, which would decrease a student with autism’s challenging behaviour in the school setting. This study also demonstrated how FBA could be effectively implemented in the school system by supporting school staff throughout the training, assessment, and intervention stages. Three school personnel and one student with autism participated in this study. School personnel received a six hour training session in FBA through verbal and written instructions and case study examples. During training, participants learned the fundamentals about function-based behaviour support, how to conduct a Functional Behaviour Assessment and how to build an effective and efficient Behaviour Support Plan. Once training had been completed, school personnel completed the FBA process on a student with autism. The assessment procedure involved collecting information regarding two target behaviours through interviews and observations and then developing a BSP based on the assessment information that was collected. Observational information was collected after the BSP was implemented to determine if it had an effect on the student’s behaviour. While the two target behaviours appeared to decrease after the BSP was implemented, the specific causes of these reductions were unable to be drawn due to the possibility of other variables accounting for the improved behaviour. Results of FBA training revealed that school personnel’s confidence level in their ability to develop and implement FBA procedures had increased after training. Discussion includes the potential benefits of training school staff to implement Functional Behaviour Assessment procedures and the Behaviour Support Plans that are directly linked to assessment information, limitations of this study, and directions for future research in applied school practices.
Functional Behaviour Assessment (FBA) , Autistic Children , Behaviour Support Plans (BSP)