Maryland Positive Behavior Support Training

Tier 3 Functional Behavioral Assessment

Before beginning a tier 3 functional behavioral assessment, or FBA, a first step is to confirm any recent medical and mental health exam. Challenging behavior is often associated with pain, allergies, and other mental health related issues. Ruling out medical and mental health-related issues can solve challenges without FBA.

The goal of the FBA is to understand why challenging behaviors are occurring. An FBA will includes the following main steps:

  1. Describe the challenging behavior in detail,
  2. Identify the events, times, and situations that predict when challenges both occur and do not occur,
  3. Record the consequences that maintain the challenging behavior,
  4. Develop a hypothesis about the function a challenging behavior serves, and
  5. Confirm the hypothesis or function using direct observation.

As you can see, the three major areas of the FBA in the Figure on this page starts with a review of the vision that the person-centered or wraparound plan describes. Interviews, a review of records, surveys, and other details unique to the person are gathered as part of information gathering process to look for patterns that provide the team with an understanding of why the behaviors may be occurring. Finally, the information that has been summarized is confirmed using direct observation. Visit the Minnesota PBS Notebook to see more examples of FBA tools and resources.

This infographic has three key areas: first quality of life vision: review details of person=centerd or wraparound plan. The second is information gathering: review records, interview the child and others, observe behavior and look for patterns. The third area is confirm hypothesis by gathering evidence to confirm the fuction maintaining the child's problem behavior.

Adapted from Freeman, R., Matthews, K., Griggs, P., & Quick, S. (2013). FBA figure. Lawrence, KS: University of Kansas, Schiefelbusch Institute for Lifespan Studies.

  • Psychological records
  • Plan of care/individual education plan
  • Interviews with the person and other people
  • Surveys about function
  • Individual details (sleep disorder, diabetes, epilepsy, other mental health issues, etc.)
  • Direct observation
  • Systematically testing the function of behavior (functional analysis)