Academic journal article Education & Treatment of Children

Collaboration with Families in the Functional Behavior Assessment of and Intervention for Severe Behavior Problems

Academic journal article Education & Treatment of Children

Collaboration with Families in the Functional Behavior Assessment of and Intervention for Severe Behavior Problems

Article excerpt

Abstract

To date, research on functional analysis and interventions has relied primarily on the use of highly-trained clinicians as therapists throughout assessment and intervention. However, an increasing number of research articles have reported collaborative efforts between parents and behavior analysts in the assessment and intervention of child behavior problems. There are several conceptual issues and considerations that must be addressed to make this process successful. The purpose of this article is to discuss these issues and considerations within the context of the published literature, as well as to identify areas for future research. We also offer suggestions regarding the collaboration between families and behavior analysts throughout the assessment and intervention process.

DESCRIPTORS: parents as therapists, functional analysis, problem behavior, positive behavioral support.

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In recent years, much has been written about the assessment of and intervention for severe problem behavior. In large part, this is due to the development of functional analysis as an assessment technology (Bijou,

Peterson, & Ault, 1968; Carr & Durand, 1985; Iwata, Dorsey, Slifer, Bauman, & Richman, 1982/1994). Although the development of functional analysis procedures has led to the increased use of positive, reinforcement-based intervention procedures for problem behavior (Mace, 1994), most published research on functional analysis and interventions based on functional analyses has been confined to clinical settings or to school settings with trained behavior analysts conducting assessment and intervention conditions. With the increasing behavioral challenges facing schools, families and communities, it may be wise for behavior analysts to more closely collaborate with teachers, family members, and other direct care staff so that behavioral principles become tools regularly used in schools and homes (Northup et al., 1994).

As functional analysis technology extends from controlled research contexts to schools, communities, and homes, important questions arise regarding effective collaboration throughout the assessment and intervention process. The purpose of this article is to discuss these issues within the context of the published literature. This paper focuses on the role of families in the functional analysis process; however, many of the issues discussed certainly apply to school and community contexts as well. First, we provide a brief overview of the functional behavior assessment process. (It should be noted that in this paper, we use the term "functional behavior assessment" as an umbrella term that encompasses interviews and other forms of indirect assessment, direct observations of problem behavior in the child's natural routine, and direct observations of problem behavior in analogue or experimental manipulations of environmental variables. We use the term "functional analysis" to refer only to direct observations of problem behavior in analogue or experimental manipulations of environmental variables, as described in Iwata et al. [1994/1982].) Next, we evaluate the conceptual and pragmatic issues surrounding the role of families in functional behavior assessment and intervention. We also identify areas of research needed to better understand how families of children with problem behaviors can best take advantage of behavioral technology. Finally, we discuss what roles may be most feasible for families and behavior analysts in functional behavior assessment and intervention.

Functional Behavior Assessment and Intervention

Functional behavior assessment is an umbrella term for an assessment methodology that allows one to identify specific environmental variables that are associated with the occurrence of problem behavior. Identifying the variables that increase or decrease problem behavior allows for the development of function-based interventions that manipulate the delivery of these variables to reduce problem behavior (Carr & Durand, 1985; Iwata, Vollmer, Zarcone, & Rogers,1993). …

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