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Functional Assessment Interview

The Functional Assessment Interview (FAI; O’Neill et al., 1997) is a semi-structured interview with 11 sections, which is designed to gather information about a behavior and the circumstances under which it occurs.

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The Functional Assessment Interview Form (FAI; O’Neill et al., 1997) is a semi-structured interview designed to gather information about a behavior and the circumstances under which it occurs. The interview consists of 11 sections that help caregivers/teachers describe the behavior, identify antecedents and consequences, and identify medical conditions. The interview also inquires about an individual’s communication skills, successful and unsuccessful teaching strategies and activities; effective reinforcers, interventions previously attempted, and developed hypotheses. It does not result in scores to identify behavior function but does yield information that may be helpful in solving problem behaviors. In 2003, The Center on Social and Emotional Foundations for Early Learning at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign created an FAI Form for young children, which can be accessed at


Age: N/A

Time to Administer: 45-90 minutes

Method of Administration: Interview with caregiver or teacher, which results in a hypothesis regarding behavior
No scores yielded but resulting information can provide basis for intervention to address problem behavior

Subscales: Components: Behavior description (topography, frequency, duration, intensity); Ecological/setting events; Immediate antecedents (most and least likely times, settings, people, activities); Consequences/outcomes that maintain; Efficiency of behavior (effort required, frequency of reward, latency between behavior and reward); Communication strategies; Reinforcers; Intervention history

Autism Related Research

Fee, Schieber, Noble, & Valdovinos (2016)

Age Range: 2 to 12 years

Sample Size: 24

Topics Addressed:

Compared results from indirect assessments to a direct assessment (brief functional analysis [BFA]) in identifying behavioral function

Outcome:Fee, Schieber, Noble, & Valdovinos (2016)

Results revealed inconsistencies in agreement between the indirect assessments and the BFA/direct assessment, but indirect assessments were equally comparable in identifying automatic function of behavior. The FAI was most consistent with the BFA for identifying escape functions, while the Questions About Behavioral Function (QABF) was most consistent for identify attention function.

Conclusion: multiple modalities of assessment when determining behavioral function is important, and ecological validity of indirect measures may be higher, but a combination of direct and indirect measures may yield the most effective intervention.

Reese, Richman, Zarcone, & Zarcone (2003)

Age Range: 2 to 5 years

Sample Size: 100

Topics Addressed:

Utility of FAI in functional assessment and intervention planning

Outcome:Reese, Richman, Zarcone, & Zarcone (2003)

Among children with ASD, gaining access to perseverative activities and escaping demands while engaged in these activities frequently contribute to disruptive behavior.

Conclusion: examining diagnostic conditions associated with ASD may be useful in individualizing functional behavioral assessment approaches, and use of FAI may help with this in terms of gathering information from multiple sources.