attention is rewarding and increases the likelihood that the child will “play” the running away game.
Interventions that enable children to have some control over their environments, such as task preferences, choice-making, reinforcement selection, and self-monitoring, can all contribute to reductions in problem behaviors (Fisher et al., 1992; Koegel et al., 1987; Koegel et al., 1992; McGee and Daly, 1999; Newman et al., 1997). Teaching of pivotal skills, such as increasing motivation or self-management, can produce improvement in wide areas of functioning that might otherwise require hundreds or even thousands of discrete trials for the child to master individually (Koegel et al., 1999).
Functional assessment is the process of identifying the variables that reliably predict and maintain problem behaviors (Horner and Carr, 1997). Although such an approach is implied in much of the research described above, a more formal approach to functional behavioral assessment has evolved in the literature and is required in certain cases of discipline under IDEA (see, for example 34 C.F.R., 300.520, 1999). The functional behavioral assessment process typically involves:
identifying the problem behavior(s);
developing hypotheses about the antecedents and consequences likely to trigger or support the problem behavior;
testing the hypotheses; and
designing an intervention, based on the conclusions of the assessment, in which antecedents or consequences are altered and the child’s behavior is monitored.
Initial identification of the problem behavior and development of ideas of why it occurs often involve interviews with people in the child’s classroom or family and direct observation of the behavior in its usual context. Testing hypotheses may occur through additional observation or, less frequently, through systematic functional analysis in which the environment is manipulated to test the hypotheses (Carr et al., 1994; Dunlap et al., 1993; Iwata et al., 1982; Repp and Horner, 1999). Such analyses are expected to lead to the identification and training of alternative, appropriate behaviors that can give the child the same “payoff” he or she received from the previous problem behavior. In several reviews, as many as 16 different motives for problem behavior were identified (Reiss