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Comparing Indirect, Descriptive, and Experimental Functional Assessments of Challenging Behavior in Children with Autism

  • Jonathan TarboxEmail author
  • Arthur E. Wilke
  • Adel C. Najdowski
  • Rachel S. Findel-Pyles
  • Susie Balasanyan
  • Amy C. Caveney
  • Vardui Chilingaryan
  • Deidra M. King
  • Sarah M. Niehoff
  • Kelly Slease
  • Betty Tia
Original Article

Abstract

Current standards of practice in psychological and educational services dictate the need for ascertaining the function of challenging behaviors before treating them and for behavioral interventions to be based on the function of behavior. At least three broad categories of functional assessments have been developed, including indirect, descriptive, and experimental procedures. Although experimental functional analyses are common in empirical research on behavioral intervention, indirect and descriptive functional assessment procedures may be more commonly used in clinical and educational practice. Little research has systematically compared indirect, descriptive, and experimental functional assessments in children with autism. The current study compares indirect, descriptive, and experimental functional assessments, across seven children with autism, representing a range of ages and topographies of challenging behavior. Overall, descriptive assessments often did not produce conclusive results, whereas the indirect and experimental assessments generally did. Concurrence across the three types of functional assessments was found in only one case. Implications for clinical and educational practice are discussed.

Keywords

Functional assessment Functional analysis Functional behavioral assessment Indirect Direct Descriptive Experimental functional analysis Autism 

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jonathan Tarbox
    • 1
    Email author
  • Arthur E. Wilke
    • 1
  • Adel C. Najdowski
    • 1
  • Rachel S. Findel-Pyles
    • 2
  • Susie Balasanyan
    • 3
  • Amy C. Caveney
    • 3
  • Vardui Chilingaryan
    • 3
  • Deidra M. King
    • 3
  • Sarah M. Niehoff
    • 3
  • Kelly Slease
    • 3
  • Betty Tia
    • 3
  1. 1.Center for Autism and Related Disorders, Inc.TarzanaUSA
  2. 2.Chicago School for Professional Psychology, Los AngelesLos AngelesUSA
  3. 3.Center for Autism and Related Disorders, Inc. and University of Nevada, RenoRenoUSA

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