Activity: Functional Behaviour Assessment

The purpose of this activity is to explore the main features of Functional Behaviour Assessment and Positive Behaviour Support Planning.


Activity overview

This activity will allow you to explore the main features of Functional Behaviour Assessment and Positive Behaviour Support Planning.

These features include a 3:1 ratio of proactive to reactive planning, a commitment to non-aversive crisis management, teaching skills functionally related to the target behaviour (including life skills and tolerance training), plus the positive reinforcement of the absence of the behaviour.

Activity instructions

Part 1 – Positive reinforcement and crisis management

There are 2 sometimes controversial pieces to the comprehensive behaviour support plan:

  • positive reinforcement
  • crisis management
  1. In your experience, what are the complexities in these two pieces?
  2. Take time to share or journal about your personal convictions with positive reinforcement and non-aversive crisis management.
  3. How will you advocate for the use of positive reinforcement versus punishment and other aversive techniques?
  4. Slide 6 reads: “Here’s what we agree upon…” Do we agree upon these points?

Part 2 – Implementing the plan

Take time to analyze the graph on slide 8. The coloured bars display when parts of the plan were implemented.

  • what do you notice about the activation of the plan’s parts and its impact on behaviour?
  • if you had access to this team, what questions would you ask as you analyze the highest spikes?
  • what hunches do you have about that peak in target behaviour?
  • identify as many related features as you can about that spike
  • when does it start?
  • how does it end?
  • what happened to the behaviour immediately following?
  • what parts of the plan were in motion at the time?
  • what do you notice about the intervention (orange bar) as compared to the other two interventions?
  • what changes were made to the plan following the spike in behaviour?

Remember from the video that the purple bar – the schedule of reinforcement – was applied in two parts: first, it was designed to reduce the frequency (how often) of Matthew’s aggression followed by a design to reduce the intensity (how bad it gets) of Matthew’s aggression.

  • was this the right time?
  • how would you know?
  • what data would you need in order to create pass/fail criteria?
  • given your experience with the application of behaviour plans, how do you suppose Matthew’s caregivers responded to that last spike in behaviour?
  • what do you notice about the last spike in comparison to the first?
  • how will you use this data as an advocate and team leader?

Part 3 – Behavioural topography

Behavioural topography is a range of different behaviours all with the same function.

1. How will identifying the topography be helpful for intervention?

2. Using a spider chart like the one shown, hypothesize the topography of the behaviours listed in the chart.

  • how many behaviours can you identify that give expression to the functions listed below?
  • the first one has been done for you

  • Sensory discomfort (shown)
  • Confusion about instructions
  • Forgetfulness
  • Reaction to transitions
  • Not having a mental picture
  • Struggling to communicate
  • Social overload
  • Unmet love/belonging needs
  • Confusion about place

Part 4 – Hypothetical intensity scale

1. Create a 4-point hypothetical intensity scale for each of the following behaviours:

  • stealing
  • lying
  • school avoidance
  • aggression
  • promiscuity
  • non-compliance
  • non-performance

For example: Stealing


Taking things without consent and lying about it


Relocating things that aren’t his


Handling things without permission


Caught snooping

2. Discuss the implications of the intensity scale for positive reinforcement, meaningful feedback, advocacy and relationship.

Modified: 2015-09-09
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