Trying to Figure Out the Function for Problem Behaviors? Ask the Child!


When addressing problem behaviors in individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), the first step is to determine the function the behavior serves.  The main reason why we need to determine the function for problem behavior is so that we can teach the child replacement skills that are more appropriate that can serve the same function.  There are many tools teachers and behavior specialists use when doing a functional behavior assessment to determine the function of a problem behavior.  Yet, one of the most effective things we can do first when trying to determine the function of a challenging behavior, however, is to ask the child why he/she is engaging in the problem behavior.  You would be amazed at what you can learn about a student’s problem behavior if you just ask.  This issue of NASET's Autism Spectrum Disorder series, written by Deb Leach, Ed. D., BCBA (and reprinted with permission from Doug Goldberg at The Special Education Advisor at, will explore the impact and effectiveness of asking children directly about their problem behaviors and why they do what they do.

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