FBAs and BIPs: A Brief Overview

Need help behaviorally with your student or child with Autism? If you are struggling to navigate the process- don’t worry I got you. We are going to walk through the different components that will be essential in helping your child stop their challenging behaviors.  We will talk about what an FBA is and how to develop an effective intervention plan!

What is a Functional Behavior Assessment (FBA)?

The thing about having a student who requires special education services are all of the acronyms you need to learn. So let’s start off with this one: FBA or Functional Behavior Assessment.  Basically it is to figure out the why behavior the behavior. Why is the student doing what they are doing?  This is a great place to start when dealing with behaviors.

Did you know all behavior both good and bad happen for one of FOUR reasons? Yep- the four reasons (or functions) are attention, escape, sensory, or gaining access to a tangible. You can read more about them here.

A functional behavior assessment is the first step in helping to develop a plan that is going to meet the exact needs of your learner. These are done when the behavior is impacting the learning environment, putting themselves or others at risk, or if they are subject to disciplinary actions and it is decided that their actions are a result of their disability. 

FBAs will involve observations and collection of data. Observers may include teachers, paraprofessionals, related services providers, the school psychologist or anyone else who works with the child.  It will also include a records review that includes standardized testing results, rating scales, parent input, and any other relevant information.

Why are FBAs Important?

FBAs are important for many reasons. Behavior is complex. Each child has their own unique needs and what works for one student may not work with another. In order to receive high quality interventions for your student, we need to know their exact needs. 

FBAs will identify a hypothesis of why the behavior is occurring as well as some triggers that cause the behavior to occur. This can be helpful in creating pro active interventions to prevent problem behaviors from even occurring!

Once the FBA is complete, it can be determined if the student requires a Behavior Intervention Plan. If so, the team will come up with a plan.

What is a Behavior Intervention Plan?

A Behavior Intervention Plan or BIP is based off of the FBA and creates an exact plan for stopping problem behaviors based on their function. This plan can be developed with the following: the teacher, school psychologist, autism behavior specialists, board-certified behavior analysts, paraprofessionals, or anyone else who provides support services. Please note that not everyone may be able to be apart of the creation, but everyone should be briefed on the specifics of the plan once complete.

What does a BIP include?

  1. Strengths of the student
  2. Proactive strategies for preventing behavior
  3. Reactive strategies for supporting behavior when it does occur
  4. Data collection methods. Data needs to be collected on an ongoing basis to make sure the behavior is changing for the better.
  5. Schedule to regularly assess if the interventions are being successful
  6. New skills that will be taught in place of the problem behavior. This can be taught individually or in a social skills group.

The BIP should have the specific needs your student requires and not be a generic plan.

Not every student who has autism spectrum disorder or has behaviors needs a BIP. However, when it starts to impact their learning- this is when an official intervention needs to take place.

What are the benefits of having a BIP?

When a student has a BIP, the students’ quality of life can improve for the better. Why is that? When students, whether in elementary or middle school, if they are engaging in problem behaviors- it is most likely going to impact their personal relationships. This in it of itself is a huge benefit. 

It can also help all of the adults working with the student to better understand the child’s needs. Instead of thinking they are engaging in problem behavior just because they will know the reason why (the function) and have a plan on how to stop the behavior or prevent it from happening.

It is important to say that simply having a BIP does not mean the problem behavior is going to stop. There needs to be constant reflection and looking at the plan to be sure if it the best fit and that the child’s individual needs are being met by it. If they are not, then the BIP should be revised.

What are some other autism behavior services?

1. Hire a behavior consultant

Need an outside observer and expert? You can work with your school to see if they would be willing to bring someone in. There may be one on staff or there may be a company they contract with. Did you know that i provide these services as well? Check out all the services I provide here! I can provide consultation services virtually or in person as well as professional development for a team or school!

2. Look into ABA Services

ABA therapy is not available in all schools, but there are also private clinics where students can receive private therapy services. You will need to check with aba providers near you as well as your insurance company to be sure it is covered. This can be a great option because not only is there support for your child, there is also parent training to support family members in changing the behavior at home as well.

3. Early Intervention

If you have a student or child who is younger than school age, look into early intervention services. These early therapy programs can be incredibly helpful in getting students the skills they need early on. You can possibly receive music therapy, speech therapy, occupational therapy, physical therapy and more (depending on what your student qualifies for). This can help your student gain skills early on which can stop some other problem behaviors.

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