Current Developmental Disorders Reports

, Volume 6, Issue 4, pp 202–208 | Cite as

Functional Assessment of Challenging Behavior

  • Raymond G. MiltenbergerEmail author
  • Diego Valbuena
  • Sindy Sanchez
Intellectual Disabilities (M Feldman and R Condillac, Section Editors)
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Topical Collection on Intellectual Disability


Purpose of Review

The purpose of this review is to evaluate recent research on functional assessment procedures to identify recent advances and best practices.

Recent Findings

Indirect assessments are the most limited form of functional assessment, but their value increases when conducted by behavior analysts rather than caregivers. Direct assessments produce more valid outcomes than indirect assessments, but do not demonstrate a functional relationship between the environmental contingencies and the behavior. Functional analysis procedures are the most rigorous and valid approaches. Recent research has evaluated functional analysis variations, such as the interview-informed synthesized contingency analysis, that are more efficient and flexible for use in a variety of settings.


The implementation of a functional assessment continues to be best practice for developing effective functional interventions for challenging behavior. Indirect assessments have value for informing direct assessments and functional analyses. Using indirect assessment findings to develop functional analysis procedures can increase their efficiency while maintaining the validity of the functional assessment process.


Functional analysis Functional assessment Indirect assessment Direct assessment 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.

Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent

This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.


Papers of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as: • Of importance •• Of major importance

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Raymond G. Miltenberger
    • 1
    Email author
  • Diego Valbuena
    • 1
  • Sindy Sanchez
    • 1
  1. 1.University of South FloridaTampaUSA

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