Behavior Assessment for Children & Adults with Autism & Other Development Disorders

BCRC uses the well-established procedures of functional behavior assessment methodology which is an approach that incorporates a variety of techniques and strategies to identify the causes of problem behavior. Our clinicians are trained to identify the variables associated with the behavior which leads to selecting interventions that will be most beneficial to address these challenges. Our functional behavior assessment methods look beyond the topography or form of behavior and focus instead upon identifying biological, social, affective, and environmental factors that initiate and maintain target behavior. Our experts will design treatments that will fit into your life and practice each procedure with you during scheduled visitations until you are comfortable with their implementation. Research and experience has demonstrated that behavior intervention plans stemming from the knowledge of why a child misbehaves (i.e., based on a functional assessment) are extremely useful in addressing a wide range of problems.

BCRC Assessment:

Our programs begin with an extensive evaluation of the child’s current communication, pre-academic, social and self-help skills. This assessment forms the basis for the child’s individualized intervention program.

* Verbal Behavior Milestones Assessment and Placement Program (VB-MAPP)
* Assessment of Basic Language and Learning Skills – Revised (ABLLS-R)
* Functional Behavior Assessment (FBA)
* ABA principals
* Verbal Behavior/Discrete Trials Training
* Incident Teaching
* Positive Behavior Support
* Errorless Teaching
* Fluency Building


* Basic Language Assessments are pre-screening tools that help determine where a language program should begin. An alternative to standardized language assessments, The Behavioral Language Assessment Form is designed for children with a limited vocabulary (100 words or less). It contains 12 different sections covering an assortment of early language skills and related areas. For more information, please refer to the book, Teaching Language to Children with Autism or Other Developmental Disabilities written by Mark L. Sundberg, Ph.D. and James W. Partington, Ph.D.


* A preference assessment is completed to determine possible reinforcers for your child. These can be referred to as high preference items/ activities. It will assist to identify the hierarchy of those possible reinforcers, and the environment in which they are most reinforcing. A preference assessment is usually conducted first by observing the child in a natural environment and questioning the caregivers and the child, if possible. Next, the Supervisor will gather the high preference items and place them in front of the child to determine which are most reinforcing and in what order the child selects them. Expect your child’s list of reinforcers to change, following the rules of satiation and deprivation.

o Enables a hypothesis about relations between the environment and the behavior
o Gathers information about the function of behavior
o Identifies reinforcers currently maintaining the behavior as a basis for intervention efforts
o Fosters proactive, positive interventions

The following common behavior analytic assessments are empirically validated for use in the development of a behavior program: Functional Behavior Assessment; the Assessment of Basic Language and Learning Skills – Revised; the Basic Language Assessment; and Preference Assessment. Following assessments, the Supervisor will create a behavior plan, train the Therapist and provide consultation and oversight. The Therapist will implement the plan designed by their Supervisor and be responsible for collecting the data necessary for the Supervisor to evaluate the interventions in place.


The way in which the BCBA chooses to intervene depends not only on initial assessments, but continued evaluation of data and periodic assessments to ensure that the intervention is effective and meeting the guidelines set forth by the BACB. Through data collection, your Supervisor will be able to assess the program’s effectiveness. If the child is not responding or showing progress to one or more components, the Supervisor will address each area of concern, reassess if necessary, and modify the Behavior Plan accordingly.


“Before you begin any treatment plan you must be able to understand the function of your child’s behavior. What is he trying to tell you? Once you are able to analyze the function of your child’s behavior, you will then be able to treat it” (Barbera, 2007). The Functional Behavior Assessment is designed to uncover the function that a problem behavior serves for an individual. Every behavior has a function, or purpose. The results allow your Supervisor to create interventions that include replacement behaviors that serve the same function as the target behavior. In other words, the FBA allows us to identify and design a plan to decrease problem behaviors and increase appropriate behaviors.


“The best way for someone to analyze the purpose of a behavior is to do a functional analysis of the behavior” (Schramm, 2006).


A behavior may be maintained under the control of one or more of the following functions: Attention, Escape/Avoidance, Tangible and Automatic. To properly address and develop an intervention for a behavior, one must determine the function of a behavior by examining the environment in which it occurs.

“The key to knowing how to reduce or eliminate an inappropriate behavior is to identify correctly which of the purposes a behavior serves. Once you know the goal of the inappropriate behavior, you can intentionally begin to make that behavior unsuccessful at achieving that goal” (Schramm, 2006). It is vital to remember that a behavior can serve multiple functions.

It is important to understand that an intervention will be developed according to the behavior’s function, not only on the behavior itself. For example, a child may scream to escape a task, to obtain a tangible item (e.g. candy), to get attention and/or enjoy the sensation or sound that screaming creates. Although screaming is one behavior, it can serve many functions. A BCBA would develop a different intervention for each function in order to ensure that the intervention is not counterproductive.

Mary Kate is a Staff Writer at Behavioral Counseling and Research Center (BCRC), a leading Applied Behavior Analysis agency for children & adults with Autism and other special needs. To learn more about behavioral counseling, behavioral assessments & intervention, visit BCRC

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