When you have a child with academic, social, or behavioral challenges, your goal is to provide them with the best support available. But how do you ensure that teachers and therapists effectively meet the needs of your child?
For many families, the creation of an IEP (Individualized Education Plan) accomplishes this goal. An IEP is a legal document that outlines the specific supports, services, and instructional methods a child needs, to make meaningful progress in a school setting.
If your child also engages in challenging behavior, additional supports, assessments, and written plans are necessary. These documents provide the educational team with a protocol. This helps them to work collaboratively to reduce challenging behaviors and teach replacement behaviors.
What is an FBA?
A Functional Behavioral Assessment (FBA) is the first step of the behavior evaluation process. Typically, an FBA referral is made after the educational team member identifies concerns about the extent of a child’s behavior. The goal of an FBA is to describe the behaviors, discover the reasons why those behaviors are occurring, and to develop a plan to teach replacement strategies for those behaviors.
The next step is for a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) to conduct an FBA. They will gather information through both direct (observations & data collection) and indirect measures (rating scales & interviews).
The information collected during the FBA process helps to answer the question “Why are challenging behaviors occurring?”After collecting relevant data and analyzing it, the BCBA identifies a possible function. Then a Behavior Intervention Plan (BIP) is written.
What is a BIP?
A Behavior Intervention Plan (BIP) is a set of protocols that address a child’s challenging behavior.
The first step is to explain the child’s challenging behaviors. It is important to write these in a way that describes what the behavior “looks like.” This ensures that the behaviors can be easily tracked and recorded by the educational team.
Antecedent interventions are strategies, which aim to stop a behavior before it begins. Some examples include the use of visual supports, transitional warnings, and the arrangement of the environment.
Replacement behaviors are behaviors that provide a logical alternative to challenging behavior. For example, children who engage in behaviors that involve escaping an activity learn to request a break instead. This allows the child to escape from the task briefly but also ensures that they return to work once the break is over.
Choosing a reinforcement system is another essential aspect of a BIP and ensures the delivery of positive feedback in response to desired behaviors. It is important to reinforce good behaviors while also working toward decreasing challenging behaviors.
The final section included in a BIP is a list of consequence procedures. This list provides staff with consistent responses to challenging behavior, thus decreasing the opportunity for accidental reinforcement of challenging behaviors.
How do these documents relate to the IEP process?
FBA’s and BIP’s are legal documents, created for each child. Frequently, the educational team will also develop an IEP goal area that focuses on behavior. A behavior goal area ensures the teaching of replacement behaviors, the use of data collection systems, and progress monitoring.
If you feel that your child’s behavioral needs are impairing their progress at school, the first step is to request an FBA. This will help the educational team gather more information about the reasons WHY those behaviors are happening in the first place.