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Functional Behavior Assessment (FBA)

Functional behavior assessment (FBA) is a systematic set of strategies used to determine the underlying function or purpose of a behavior so that an effective intervention plan can be developed.


FBA consists of describing the interfering or problem behavior, identifying antecedent or consequent events that control the behavior, developing a hypothesis regarding the behavior, and testing that hypothesis. Data collection is an important part of the FBA process. FBA is typically used to identify the causes of interfering behaviors such as self-injury, aggression towards others, or destructive behaviors and is usually followed by the creation and implementation of a behavior package to address the interfering behavior described. Often, teachers/practitioners use functional communication training (FCT), differential reinforcement, response interruption/redirection, extinction, and stimulus control/environmental modification to address these behaviors in learners with ASD.

FBA meets evidence-based criteria with 10 single-case design studies. According to the evidence-based studies, this intervention has been effective for preschoolers (3–5 years) to elementary and secondary school-age learners (6–22 years) with ASD. FBA can be used effectively to address communication, behavior, school-readiness, academic, and adaptive skills.

Brief Adapted from

Collet-Klingenberg, L. (2008). Overview of functional behavior assessment. Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin, Waisman Center, The National Professional Development Center on Autism Spectrum Disorders.

Fettig, A. (2013). Functional behavior assessment (FBA) fact sheet. Chapel Hill, NC: The University of North Carolina, Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute, The National Professional Development Center on Autism Spectrum Disorders.

Research Summary

Ages (yrs) Skills Settings Outcome
6, 8, 11 years Behavior School
*The information found in the Research Summary table is updated yearly following a literature review of new research and this age range reflects information from this review.

Outcomes:     Evidence-based     Emerging     No evidence     Comprehensive

Steps for Implementation


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