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Functional Analysis in Public Schools

Gretel Diaz, December 19th, 2019

Let’s start with the initial step of identifying accommodations for a kid with special needs - Assessments. The school will be conducting a series of assessments such as to measure IQ, psycho-educational, adaptive assessments and a functional behavior assessment or FBA for problem behaviors. The results of an FBA must be analyzed to determine the function of the behaviors, and with that information create a behavior plan. The problem with the FBA that's conducted in schools, is that it is carried by unqualified personnel, as only BCBA or staff under BCBA supervision should conduct an FBA, and public schools don’t hire BCBAs, so there is no supervision to assure the assessment is been done correctly. Moreover, only a BCBA should analyze the results and create the intervention packages necessary to functionally change the behavior, but like I said public schools don’t hire BCBAs. So who conducts an FBA in schools? Well, a special education teacher, usually. The problem with that is that they have no knowledge of the important variables to look for when doing this assessment such as the breakdown of the antecedents and the consequences, or contingencies (sequences) of behaviors that are objectively measured. Therefore, the results are invalid and the interventions (which are selected from a checklist) by the school special education department never work. Unfortunately, the child is the one that suffers the consequences, as he or she spends years in a classroom setting with accommodations and interventions that don’t work for him or her. In contrast, a behavior analyst will conduct an FBA, and after analysis of the data, will create a package of interventions specifically tailored to the child. The BCBA will implement the intervention, and provide consistent supervision to the individual applying it, so if modifications need to be made, they are made diligent to maintain effectiveness and for the child to have continuous improvement. With that said, it is unfortunate that public schools are limiting the access of behavior analysis professionals to work with special needs children in the school, and that instead are relating to unqualified personnel to do specialized work that has a great impact on these children's lives. However, even though you cannot add behavior analysis services to the content area in the child’s IEP, you can definitely be added to the conference note section. We are definitely getting g closer to a multidisciplinary collaboration with schools. If you need more information regarding EIPs, click here for helpful links.

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