A Functional Assessment.

This post from Lindsay of Grey Street, talks us through a behavioural assessment system she uses in her work. However I feel the overall concept is  good information for all trying to work out why a child behaves in a certain way. For those of you who work with children you may find it a useful tool to consider.

Functional Assessment Pic

In a recent post, Sarah from The Puffin Diaries asked for advice around dealing with aggressive behaviour. One of my suggestions to her was to use a Functional Assessment, which is the purpose of this post; to explain what a Functional Assessment is and how to complete one so that it may be of benefit to some of you reading along.

A Functional Assessment is a tool that is used to help break down a behaviour and give context to family members, professionals and the child involved, when applicable (I say child because that is our focus here, but this process can be used on any age).

Going through a Functional Assessment process is helpful in illustrating what the problem really is, the importance of addressing the behaviour and most critically, it mobilizes people into action with a clear plan.

What often happens, is that a Functional Assessment provides a solid jumping point for everyone involved in the child’s life to get on the same page, begin taking action and start tweaking strategies to support the child.

It’s important to remember that this is just a tool. As much as we may wish for one, it is no magic wand. Figuring out behaviour is much the same as being a detective; you need to look for lots of clues, find the connections between them and take a chance on your conclusion, which may or may not work the first time. Or the second… The Functional Assessment is just a way to find more clues to tricky behaviours.

The Functional Assessment form is simple to use and you’ll find it a very systematic and logical way of analyzing all the contributing factors around a particular behaviour, at it’s simplest, it is just a really good organizational tool.

To get the most out of the form, you will want to assemble all the people involved in the child’s life where the behaviour is occurring.

If it is at home and school than you will want your family and teachers, aides etc. The more input you have, the more accurate your information will be and the better plan you can develop at addressing the behaviour. You also want to always include the child when possible.
In larger groups of people you may want to use flip chart paper and have someone facilitate the process. In smaller groups it may just look like 2 or 3 people huddled around the table and a piece of paper.

The final step is the Safety/Prevention Plan. This helps put people into action by assigning specific people specific tasks to help change and reshape the behaviour.

It offers a script for everyone in the child’s life to work from and continues to keep everybody on the same page and working on the same goals.

Here you can find an example of a FUNCTIONAL ASSESSMENT that I have filled out in red with what you are looking for, asking yourself, child and others as well as with considerations to make in each section. The second form that you can find here FUNCTIONAL ASSESSMENT EXAMPLE is an example of what an actual assessment may look like. Here is a BLANK FUNCTIONAL ASSESSMENT TEMPLATE and here is an example of a SAFETY PREVENTION PLAN

(All the highlighted documents above will be downloaded when you click on them)


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