what is an fba

Functional behavioral assessment (FBA) is a variation on procedures originally developed to ascertain the purpose or reason for behaviors displayed by individuals with severe cognitive or communication disabilities (e.g., individuals with mental retardation or autism).

Because these individuals were unable to fully explain why they were displaying certain inappropriate behaviors, methods were developed to determine why they demonstrated such actions. These investigatory procedures, derived primarily from the orientation and methods of applied behavior analysis were known as “functional behavioral analysis”.

By gathering data and conducting experiments that evaluated the effects of environmental variables on the behavior, concerned staff members could usually decipher the meaning of the behaviors (i.e., which emotion or message was being communicated through the actions), determine why they were occurring, and develop behavior change programs to help the disabled individual display more appropriate behavior in meeting his or her needs.