- Functional behavior assessment for people with autism: Making sense of seemingly senseless behavior
Functional Behavior Assessment for People with Autism is a book written to help readers identify how and why behaviors that do not seem to make sense occur. It is also designed to help readers learn basic strategies to distinguish between these behaviors, and learn to decrease them; i.e. a young girl in school picking up a chair and smashing it on the foot of another student, an adolescent who bangs his head when he cannot have another piece of candy, or a child who will only engage in conversations about the insides of a computer.. It is written to help parents, grandparents, caregivers, teachers, psychologists, and other professionals in the field learn how to “complete comprehensive functional behavior assessments independently” (p. xiii). The author of the book, Beth Glasberg, earned her Ph. D. in Clinical Psychology and is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst. She is a two time recipient of the Lebec Prize for research in autism, and has written this book based on her experiences working with children and families.
Functional Behavior Assessment for People with Autism has four major strengths: 1) its use of simple language and “keep- it-simple” summaries at the conclusion of each chapter; 2) its many real life examples; 3) its graphs, tables, and charts; and 4) its useful appendix section in the back of the book, which offers many useful forms for completing a functional behavior assessment. Glasberg writes in simple, easy-to-understand language, even though some of the concepts in the book are more complex and difficult to understand. For those concepts, Glasberg provides “Keep it Simple Summaries” to sum up and review what was explained. The author also gives real life examples after most concepts to help the reader more fully grasp and understand them. This book is written as a step-by-step guide to completing a functional behavior analysis. It begins with helping the reader to understand why problem behaviors occur and how they are learned. It then proceeds to teaching the reader the steps toward completing a functional behavior analysis, followed by how to write an effective intervention plan, and finally, the book covers special circumstances to consider when completing a functional behavior analysis, as well as troubleshooting.
The first chapter, why problem behaviors occur, provides a brief history of problem behaviors, and how they relate to the current understanding [End Page 433] of problem behaviors. It also discusses why problem behaviors are so common in children with autism. Glasberg provides three explanations for this; difficulties with communication, difficulties with social interactions, and restricted interests. Chapter two discusses how behaviors are learned. As warned by the author in the introduction to this chapter, it is “by far the most technical section of the book” (p 11). This chapter covers such topics as antecedents, behaviors, and consequences, the four types of reinforcement, and establishing operations. To offset the technical language used in the chapter, the author provides many helpful tools to help the reader understand the chapter’s content. There are four keep-it-simple summaries throughout the chapter, as well as “quick quizzes” throughout. Also in this chapter, the four most common functions, or reasons, for problem behavior are briefly discussed. These functions include attention, access to objects or activities, escape or avoidance of situations, and automatic reinforcement.
The following five chapters in the book address eight steps to completing a functional behavior assessment. These steps are: 1) create an assessment team, 2) select a target behavior, 3) define the target behavior, 4) measure the target behavior, 5) establish a baseline, 6) interview team members, 7) observe the behavior, and 8) experiment with the behavior.
The book discusses these steps individually, with a “keep-it-simple” summary at the end of each explanation. In step one, the importance of choosing appropriate team members, such as family, professionals, peers, and the child is discussed. Step two provides five guidelines to help the team focus on the target behavior: 1...