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Functional Behavior Analysis is a technique employed to determine the source of maladaptive or problem behaviors and to replace them with more appropriate behaviors which meet the same need. All behaviors occur in order to meet a need or want. The behavior is reinforced when the behavior is successful. In the following brief case studies, we will first determine the function of the behavior and what is happening to reinforce it. The case studies will present the five basic behavioral functions.

1) A six-year-old girl with autism will, if left alone, sit by herself and rock back and forth. She will do this without interruption until someone gets her attention and gives her another activity.

2) An eight-year-old boy with autism and limited verbal skills frequently throws all his papers off his desk and knocks his chair over. When this happens, the teacher has an aide take him out in the hall for a break to calm down. When he returns, the aide usually helps him with the work so he doesn't get upset again.

3) A ten-year-old nonverbal child with autism keeps pushing his lunch off the table. This is the first time his teachers have seen this behavior. He usually eats the same lunch happily, but today he keeps throwing it on the floor.

4) A four-year-old nonverbal child with autism has a long history of biting other children in the classroom. This happens most often when the teacher is distracted and working on something else. or talking to another student. When she bites other children, the teacher takes the girl aside and has a long talk with her about not biting.

5) A twelve-year-old boy with autism constantly interrupts his peers when they are playing ball at recess. He will push them, hit them, and shout at them until they all get upset and go off to tell the teacher. While they are gone he picks up the ball and plays with it.

What is the function of each behavior, and how is it being reinforced?

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