In order to identify the function of the behavior, you must first start by specifically identifying the target behavior in question.  It is not enough to say the child or adult is aggressive or has outbursts.  These descriptors are too vague.  When identifying the target behavior, you will need to be extremely specific.

Examples of target behavior descriptions that are vague and not useful:

aggressive

has outbursts

runs away all the time

screams at adults

grabs food all the time

off task

Examples of target behavior descriptions that are very specific and useful:

hits other students and adults when asked to do work tasks

screams, cries, kicks and throws items when upset

leaves the group activity, without adult permission, several times a day

uses a loud voice to communicate with adults when he is corrected

takes food from others plates during lunch, snack and at home

plays with fingers or pencil during work time

Once you have specifically identified the target behavior or behaviors, you can begin to start observing for that behavior.  If you have a person with many behaviors, it is helpful to only work on a few behaviors at a time (maybe 1 or 2) in order to be truly effective.  This means, that some behaviors will be ignored while you are working on your targeted behaviors.  To observe and keep good data, you will need to determine what type of data sheet you will need.  Using the examples of specific target behaviors above, here are some identified options for collecting data on that behavior:

**hits other students and adults when asked to do work tasks ~~this behavior may require some type of data collection which focuses on frequency.  You will want to record how many times a day this behavior occurs.  It would also be helpful to you to include the time and activity each hit occurs.  If you have an individual that hits “all day”  you will want to record each and every hit.

**screams, cries, kicks and throws items when upset~~this behavior may require some type of data collection which focuses on intensity or duration.  You may want to record how long the screaming, crying, kicking, throwing episodes last or you may want to record how intense they are.  For example, sometimes the person may cry, but other times, he/she may cry, kick and throw items.  The activity and time the behavior happens is also important to record.

**leaves the group activity, without adult permission several times a day~~this behavior may require some type of data collection which focuses on frequency.  You will want to record how many times this behavior occurs during each activity.  A data chart which has the daily schedule and requires the adults to place tally marks each time the child leaves that activity. If you have an individual that leaves the group activity several times a day, you will want to record each and every time.

**uses a loud voice to communicate with adults when he is corrected~~this behavior may require some type of data collection which focuses on finding out why he is “yelling.”  An ABC data chart may be handy for this.  With an ABC data chart you can identify the Antecedent, Behavior and Consequence (ABC) for the behavior.  With an ABC data chart you would record what happened right before the behavior (ex. what did the teacher say when correcting his work), then you record the behavior (uses a loud voice to communicate with adults when he is corrected), next, you record the consequence.  The consequence is simply whatever happens after the child engages in the behavior (ex.  does the adult leave him alone, does the adult say something back, or does the adult ignore the yelling.)

**takes food from others plates during lunch, snack and at home~~this behavior may require some type of data collection which focuses on frequency.  You will want to record how many attempts the person has at taking food as well.  It may be helpful to collect data on what type of food the child is trying to take and what is already on his/her plate.  In addition, you may want to record the ABC’s of this behavior also, because you will want to know what the reaction of the adult is after the child takes the food.  This will be important in determining your function of the behavior.

**plays with fingers or pencil during work time~~this behavior may require some type of data collection which focuses on duration or intervals.  You will want to record how many reminders the adult needs to provide the child before he completes or focuses on the work or how long the child waits from the time the direction is given until he/she starts working.

 

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Click here for help with Types of data
Click here for help Identifying the Target Behavior.