You’ve likely heard the phrase, “a child never acts for no reason.” A child may act in a certain way for numerous reasons. Perhaps they feel overwhelmed, stressed, or never ate enough breakfast. Unraveling the root of a child’s behavior requires more than simply relying on one’s intuition; Performing an FBA (Functional Behavior Assessment) is the most effective way to gain an understanding.

In ABA, a Functional Behavior Assessment (FBA) is an assessment process utilized to ascertain the reason, or “function,” of a distinct behavior. This evaluation seeks to explain why a specific behavior occurs by examining its meaning and purpose.

The approach of FBA is a scientific, research-based, & systematic way to understand why an individual behaves in a certain way.

FBA in Nevada

In Nevada, the Nevada Department of Education requires all public educational institutions to use FBA when implementing positive behavior interventions. This includes general and special education classrooms to ensure students receive the most effective support possible. Additionally, school personnel must be adequately trained in using FBA to measure student performance and progress.

Keys steps in fba

FBA consists of four key steps:

  • Describing the interfering or problem behavior.
  • Identifying antecedent or consequent events that control the behavior.
  • Developing a hypothesis of the behavior.
  • Testing the hypothesis.

Describing the problem behavior includes observing and recording it in detail.

Identifying antecedent or consequent events that control the behavior involves closely examining possible causes of the problem behavior and recognizing any likely rewards that may reinforce it.

Developing a hypothesis of the behavior means creating an educated guess as to what might be causing it. This can include examining potential causes such as lack of skills, environmental factors, and other contributing conditions.

The final step of FBA is testing the hypothesis by conducting experiments to determine which factors significantly impact the behavior.

Categories of Behavior Cause

Four main categories of causes can explain a child’s behavior: attention, stimulus, escape, and tangible.

Attention: Attention is the most common cause of a child’s behavior. A child may be seeking attention from an adult when they engage in certain behaviors such as whining or tantrums.

Stimulus:  Stimulus is another cause of behavior, including external stimuli or other environmental factors. It could also be internal stimuli such as hunger or a noisy environment.

Escape:  Escape is another cause of a child’s behavior, including escaping an uncomfortable situation or perceived threat.

Tangible:  Finally, tangible rewards can also drive certain behaviors in children, including physical items like candy and toys being offered as incentives for desired behaviors. 


FBA has been scientifically studied and proven effective in understanding behaviors across different ages and for various domains such as communication. It has also been Mandated in IDEA as part of the evaluation process, particularly for children with significant behavior issues.

Age Range

FBA is most effective when targeting behaviors in students within the preschool, primary, and middle school educational levels. However, it may also have limited utility for older adolescents and adults as their behavior may be more difficult to modify due to entrenched behavior patterns.


FBA can target various skills, such as social competencies, communication strategies, problem-solving aptitudes, & academic performances. Educators can gain insight into the motivations behind a student’s disruptive tendencies to develop and execute effective intervention plans through this analysis method. 


Functional Behavior Assessments should be implemented in contexts that are appropriate for assessing particular behaviors. Careful consideration must be taken when selecting the environment, as it should reflect where the behaviors most often occur and provide a secure and comfortable space to conduct an accurate evaluation.

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