Case Studies in Functional Assessment and Behavior Intervention Planning Jane I. Carlson, Ph.D., B.C.B.A. The May Institute www.mayinstitute.org
Jake • 2 1/2 years old • Diagnosis: Autism • Language: No functional speech, babbling with some approximations of words from songs and videos • Problem Behavior: Tantrums, crying, self-injury (head banging)
Functional Assessment Tools • Interview • A-B-C Data Collection • Direct Observation
Interview • Jake’s mother said, “He’s very hard to please. I have to give him what he wants or he’ll make a big scene.” • Jake’s teacher said, “He really has a hard time if he can’t get a toy, either because another student has it or because he can’t get it himself. He also has problems if I take something away from him.”
Function: Tangible-seeking Contexts: Unable to independently access desired item. Desired item unavailable. Desired item taken away. Hypothesis
Intervention • Pivotal Response Teaching
Graph • See transparency (verbal responding, problem behavior)
Outcomes • Jake quickly learned about 50 words for preferred items. • Jake learned to request spontaneously within a relatively short period of time. • Jake’s age and the relatively short history of problem behavior precluded the need for multicomponent intervention. • Jake was able to remain in an integrated preschool.
Alexandra • 11 years old • Diagnosis: PDD-NOS, Bi-polar Disorder • Language: Receptive and expressive language one SD below average. • Problem Behavior: Aggression, stripping, destroying property, running out of classroom, screaming, scratching self.
Functional Assessment Tools • A-B-C Data Collection • Everyday data collection • Interview with teachers
Analysis of Everyday Data • See graph on transparency (rating scale).
Sample Interview Data • Alex’s teacher said, “Nothing we’ve tried with her works. When she’s manic, she’s out of control and tantrums until she calms herself down. Two or three staff often have to stay with her for 2 hours or more until she’s calm.”
Experimental FA • Had to be stopped because the problem behavior was so severe that she was injuring staff and herself. • Not enough data collected to develop hypothesis.
Hypothesis • Function: Attention-seeking • Context: Teacher moves from instructing Alex to working with another student, moving from 1-1 attention to a group activity. • Setting Event: Manic episodes related to bi-polar disorder
Short-term Prevention • One-to-one staffing during school day. • Neutralizing routine for manic episodes. • Noncontingent preferred activity with 1-1 staff every hour.
Long-term Intervention • Teach appropriate requests for attention • Build tolerance for delay of reinforcement • Social Skills Training • Team approach to medication management.
Outcomes • Overall reduction in the rate of problem behavior. • Decreased time per day spent engaged in problem behavior. • Reduction in problem behavior related to manic episodes. • Increased use of Functional communication • Increased participation in group activities.
Tom • 16 years old. • Diagnosis: Autism • Language skills: severe echolalia, appropriate responding to social questions with prompting, 2-3 word utterances to request preferred items. • Problem behavior: Severe aggression (hitting, grabbing, biting), low frequency, high intensity, episodes require physical holding procedures.
Functional Assessment Tools • Interview with father and staff. • A-B-C data collection
Sample Interview • Father said, “He’s really autistic. He gets something in his head and can’t let go of it. That’s when he gets really aggressive.” • Teacher said, “If he starts asking for something that he can’t have that day, watch out. There’s going to be trouble.”
Hypothesis • Function: Tangible-seeking • Context: Asking for something that is unavailable, moving from a highly preferred to a nonpreferred activity. • Setting event: unknown at this time.
Short-term prevention • When an item is unavailable, offer him the choice of two other highly preferred items, activities. • Use a “Now and Next” schedule for transitions. • No computer for now.
Long-Term Intervention • Teach appropriate requesting to continue an activity. • Teach appropriate requesting for tangibles. • Teach tolerance for delay of reinforcement. • Teach relaxation strategies.
Outcomes • Overall reduction in physical holding procedures during episodes. • Reduction in the frequency of problem behavior. • Increased ability to make alternate choices when preferred item is unavailable.
Jack • Age: 32 years • Diagnosis: Autism, Mental Retardation • Language ability: Nonverbal, can point to pictures to request preferred edibles, uses pointing and leading inconsistently. • Problem Behavior: aggression (toward staff and other residents, hitting, pushing), self-injury (hitting and biting self).
Functional Assessment Tools • A-B-C data collection • Experimental Functional Analysis
Hypothesis • Function: Escape (demands, social avoidance) • Context: Task demands (especially house chores), person coming into his space when he is agitated, presence of D. • Setting Events: Noise and commotion, fatigue
Short-term Prevention • Scheduling Changes: limit contact with D., schedule AM and PM routines for calm. • Modification in van procedure. • Change AM and PM routines to accommodate preferences. • Reduce task demands. • TV in bedroom.
Long-term Intervention • Teach appropriate “break” response. • Teach appropriate requesting of personal space. • Teach coping strategies (using headphones to minimize noise) • Choice procedure for house chores with self-monitoring component.
Outcomes • Discovered lack of sleep was related to D. Moved D. to different house. • Decrease in problem behavior. • Increase in time on task. • Ability to complete schedule of house chores using self-monitoring.