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  • Writer's pictureLaura Jones

Discipline Issues and the FBA

Often, I am contacted by a parent about their child having behavior problems in school. The problems are wide and ranging, but the question I ask first is always the same: Do they have a Positive Supports Behavior Intervention Plan (PSBIS or BIP) based on a Functional Behavior Analysis (FBA)?

This is the most relevant question because behavior problems within school are meant to trigger this process by the school. If you are at the phase of multiple suspensions or an manifestation determination review (MDR) without an FBA and resultant BIP, there is a problem on the school's side. The FBA/PSBIP is something so effective and robust for children that it is built into the rules of education. They work, when done properly, and they work well so kids may succeed in school.

How do they work? The FBA process is designed to see what the antecedents to the problems behavior(s) / target behavior are, and address that issue. They also look at what the child is getting from the behavior - these can be things like attention, stimulus, and work avoidance. When a well done FBA takes data on the behaviors of concern or target behavior (required) a pattern will most often emerge. It tells everyone a great deal about your student, their motivations and what they are seeking with their behavior.

Once the data is collected and reviewed, a positive behavior plan is created. The goal of the positive behavior plan is to provide positive replacement methods for your child to get the thing they were seeking, to try and understand the "why" and to see if there is any positive way to address the antecedents, and to curtail the problem behavior. Often there is an incentive system to promote the desired behaviors. The rewards, when indicated, should be heavily frontloaded to help create easier willing change.

It is very important to note that behavior plans are not a list of things your child will do, but rather a tool for adults surrounding them to use to change how they behave with your child in the noted circumstances.

Do you need an advocate for this process? It can be helpful to have someone who know the process and is willing to engage in a positive manner with your child's team. We also make sure that the process is being followed correctly, and the positive piece is front and center. In any case, a good FBA and positive plan can be a game changer for a child having troubles in school.

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