The Assessment Of The Behaviour

The starting point is a referral. Functional assessment is a range of strategies used to identify the antecedents and consequences that control challenging behaviour. Slevin (1999) defines it as a process for gathering information that can be used to maximise the effectiveness and efficiency of support. It focuses on the person and the environment in which the behaviour is occurring, takes into account the life of the person, helps to identify factors that contribute to the behaviour and helps to understand why the behaviour is occurring. There are approaches to functional assessment which comprise the following factors:

• Defining a specific behaviour of concern: individuals identified as challenging may do several things that cause concern. A productive outcome is more likely with one specific concern as the starting point.

• Assessing the immediate circumstances that surround specific incidents of the behaviour: antecedents - these are events that happened during the period before a behaviour that need to be modified. These are called triggers and/or stimuli and may increase the likelihood of the behaviour re-occurring. This may be done by:

1. interviewing those involved with the person's care or the person himself;

2. getting staff and carers to keep structured records of incidents, e.g. Antecendents, Behaviour, Consequences (ABC) charts or incident analysis forms (see Table 3.3);

3. using an external observer to record incidents with scatterplot charts, such as the Motivation Assessment Scale (MAS).

• Assessing the individual: a detailed history will be required. Assessment of the key areas of individual functioning will involve detailed observations and a range of specialist assessments, such as Strategic Alternative Learning Techniques (SALT 2002/3). These will help to answer the question 'What is reinforcing the behaviour?' and identify the function of the behaviour to provide useful information to compile a functional strategy for working with the behaviour.

Table 3.3. ABC Incident Analysis (Source: LaVigna & Willis 1995)


ABC Observation Sheet


Time Start

Time Finish

Those Present

What happened before


Exactly what happened


What happened afterwards

Your name

• Assessing characteristics of individuals' living environments: usually by observation and discussion with the person and others with whom s/he lives and works. Data are collected to confirm whether events that predict behaviour are accurate and hypotheses about the function of the behaviour are correct.

Body Language Basics

Body Language Basics

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