Most children engage in some problematic behavior, but for some, it happens often enough and/or with such intensity as to be seriously concerning. These problem behaviors might include self-injury, physical aggression towards others, and property destruction. Severe problem behavior happens, in large part, because it produces personally relevant outcomes (reinforcers) for the person who exhibits it. All children, including those with autism or other diagnoses, can live a life free of severe problem behavior. Freedom from problem behavior is possible when children are explicitly taught the skills of communication, toleration, and other appropriate behaviors in the sorts of challenging situations that have produced problem behavior in the past and then skills are generalized to additional contexts.

The Practical Functional Assessment (PFA) Process:

We first conduct an interview to gather information about the situations in which problem behavior tends to occur. Then we design and implement a context in which the child’s personal reinforcers are freely available and no “triggers” for problem behavior exist. The purpose is to establish trust, build rapport, and ensure that zero problem behavior and high levels of engagement are achieved.

The results from the PFA are then used to inform a skill-based treatment (SBT).

The priorities in the process are safety, dignity, and rapport.
The Skill-Based Treatment (SBT):

Treatment consists of progressively teaching communication, toleration, and contextually appropriate behaviors (CABs). Common CABs include relinquishing favorite items, transitioning to a workspace, completing academic work, playing independently, playing according to the rules of a game, completing chores, or completing self-care tasks.

Repeated practice is essential to building these skills, as is reinforcement on an unpredictable and intermittent schedule.

The overall goal of treatment is to develop trusting relationships between children and caregivers and to teach children how to be effective despite ambiguity, unpredictability, and disappointments of everyday life.

Consultation in PFA-SBT

Objectives
  1. Increase capacity of BCBAs and related personnel to routinely implement practical functional assessment processes for severe problem behavior.
  2. Increase capacity of BCBAs and related personnel to eliminate severe problem behavior and minimize associated, non-dangerous behaviors via skill-based treatments (SBT) designed from PFA processes.
  3. Increase capacity of BCBAs and related personnel to teach parents and/or staff to maintain critical skills and near-zero levels of problem behavior for those who have experienced the PFA and SBT processes.
  4. Increase capacity of BCBAs and related personnel to achieve socially validated outcomes from the PFA and SBT processes applied to children and adolescents who historically engaged in severe problem behavior.
FTF's PFA-SBT Consultation and Training Package

At FTF, we build capacity in others to implement an efficient model of assessment and treatment within a three-step process.

  1. Training
  2. Synchronous Assessment Design and Implementation Support
  3. Asynchronous Treatment Design and Implementation Support

The first step is training and is usually completed via 10 hour on-demand course.

The second step is process design and implementation support. FTF Consultants guide the process of designing both the analysis and treatment process for three children or clients served by the organization. FTF consultants then provide synchronous consultation while professionals implement the analysis. A period of reflection is then scheduled to discuss that which was learned and to plan the treatment from the analysis results.  The treatment process is then outlined for each client and treatment is often initiated on this day.

The third step involves weekly consultative support via Zoom videoconferencing. Through evaluation of uploaded videos, data sheets, and graphs, an FTF Consultant supports the host organization’s personnel in progressing the treatment until critical social skills are developed under the conditions that used to occasion severe problem behavior. Support often continues until treatment is extended to relevant people and contexts and a socially meaningful impact is achieved.

Click here to find out what our consultees think about the process.
Learn more about PFA-SBT
Course/Event/Service Description
10-hr On-Demand Course Introduction to what PFA-SBT is. This course is a pre-requisite to any of our other services.
Advanced PFA-SBT On-Demand Courses These courses help expand your knowledge in the PFA-SBT process.
PFA-SBT and SBT Generalization and Maintenance Design Sessions These application events serve to help the professional design the assessment and treatment portions of the process.
PFA-SBT Live Courses These courses offer knowledge, supported application, as well as treatment implementation support.
PFA-SBT Consultation

(Groups of three within organizations)

This is a full-support package in which we aim to build capacity in others to implement an efficient model of assessment and treatment within our three-step process

If you are interested in this service, please click below.

References
  • Hanley, G. P. (2012). Functional assessment of problem behavior: Dispelling myths, overcoming implementation obstacles, and developing new lore. BAP, 5, 54-72.
  • Hanley, G. P., Jin, C. S., Vanselow, N. R., & Hanratty, L. A. (2014). Producing meaningful improvements in problem behavior of children with autism via synthesized analyses and treatments. JABA, 47, 16-36.
  • Santiago, J. L., Hanley, G. P., Moore, K., & Jin, C. S. (2016). The generality of interview-informed functional analyses: Systematic replications in school and home. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 46, 797-811.
  • Jessel, J., Hanley, G. P., & Ghaemmaghami, M. (2016). Interview-informed synthesized contingency analyses: Thirty replications and reanalysis. JABA, 49, 576–595.
  • Slaton, J. D., Hanley, G. P. & Raftery, K. J. (2017). Interview-informed functional analyses: A comparison of synthesized and isolated components. JABA, 50, 252–277.
  • Ghaemmaghami, M., Hanley, G. P., Jessel, J. & Landa, R. (2018). Shaping complex functional communication responses. JABA, 51, 502-520.
  • Jessel, J., Hanley, G. P., Ghaemmaghami, M., & Metras, R. (2019). An evaluation of the single‐session interview‐informed synthesized contingency analysis. Behavioral Interventions34(1), 62-78.
  • Jessel, J., Metras, R., Hanley, G. P., Jessel, C., & Ingvarsson, E. T. (2020). Does analysis brevity result in loss of control? A consecutive case series of 26 single‐session interview‐informed synthesized contingency analyses. Behavioral Interventions35(1), 145-155.
  • Jessel, J., Hanley, G. P., & Ghaemmaghami, M. (2020). On the standardization of the functional analysis. Behavior analysis in practice13(1), 205-216.
  • Ghaemmaghami, M., Hanley, G. P., & Jessel, J. (2021). Functional communication training: From efficacy to effectiveness. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis54(1), 122-143.
  • Jessel, J., Rosenthal, D., Hanley, G. P., Rymill, L., Boucher, M. B., Howard, M., … & Lemos, F. M. (2021). On the Occurrence of Dangerous Problem Behavior during Functional Analysis: An Evaluation of 30 Applications. Behavior Modification, 01454455211010698.
  • Rajaraman, A., Hanley, G. P., Gover, H. C., Staubitz, J. L., Staubitz, J. E., Simcoe, K. M., & Metras, R. (2021). Minimizing Escalation by Treating Dangerous Problem Behavior Within an Enhanced Choice Model. Behavior Analysis in Practice, 1-24.
  • Whelan, C. J., Hanley, G. P., Landa, R., Sullivan, E., LaCroix, K., & Metras, R. (2021). Randomized controlled trial of seminar‐based training on accurate and general implementation of practical functional assessments. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis.
  • Rajaraman, A., Austin, J. L., Gover, H. C., Cammilleri, A. P., Donnelly, D. R., & Hanley, G. P. (2021). Toward trauma‐informed applications of behavior analysis. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis.

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