As a Board Certified Behavior Analyst, I often hear the following comments. “The behavior happened out of the blue!” OR…“The behavior you just can’t explain, it doesn’t make any sense!” OR…”This is so hard to manage, it’s just so inconsistent and hard to predict!”
Sound or feel familiar?
What we do know from decades and decades of evidence-based research is that all behaviors happen for a reason. We all engage in tons of functional behaviors each day and we have learned these behaviors over time because they work for us. So when looking at challenging behaviors, we need to get to the root of the cause and ask ourselves…what’s the function? Another important component to consider is, what skill is missing and still needs to be taught to help this individual be more successful?
By utilizing various proven methods behavior analysts can help develop interventions for helping people change their behaviors. To determine functions of behaviors, one method we employ is to look at the ABC’s of behavior. For example if we are determining the function for a challenging behavior we also want to look at the antecedents (what happened immediately before the target behavior) and the consequences (what happened immediately after the behavior). With this information and a more comprehensive process of a functional analysis we can determine a probable function.
Research demonstrates that function-based interventions are far more effective in the long term than interventions that are not treating the functions of behaviors.
So by now you are probably wondering well, what are the 4 functions of behavior?
An easy way to remember this is: Everyone EATS
•(E)- escape: The individual behaves in order to get out of doing something he/she does not want to do.
•(A)- attention: The individual behaves to get any type of attention.
•(T)- tangibles: The individual behaves in order to gain access to something preferred such as a preferred item or participation in an enjoyable activity.
•(S)- sensory: The individual behaves in a specific way because it feels good to them.
For more information on how behavior therapy can help your child:
call Nicole King, M.A., ECE, BCBA, Psy.D. Candidate