Functional Assessment Interview

By Robert E. O’Neill

The Functional Assessment Interview (FAI) is an important part of a functional behaviour assessment. The FAI consists of a series of questions designed to gather information about a child’s behaviour. Unlike the Motivation Assessment Scale (MAS), the FAI does not include scores that help to identify the function of the behaviour. The FAI, however, helps you gather information that you and a consultant would then use when problem solving around a problem behaviour.

The first set of questions guides you as you describe the behaviour. Then you are asked questions about the “ecological/setting events”, such as the child’s recent eating and sleeping habits. A description of the immediate antecedents (when, what, where and with whom the behaviour occurs) and consequences of the behaviour (what the child gets or avoids by engaging in the behaviour) are also required. You are also asked questions about the child’s abilities and difficulties, likes and dislikes, and method and level of communication.

As someone who works closely with the child, you might be able to answer many of these questions. It is important, however, to interview people who may have other information about the child – such as other staff members, the child’s parents and, where appropriate, the child himself – in order to gather as much information as possible.

By bringing your attention to the antecedents (things that happened before the behaviour) and the consequences (things that happen as a result of the behaviour) of the behaviour, the FAI helps you to identify not only the problem behaviour(s), but also the possible reasons for it. The FAI also brings your attention to the skills, interests, challenges and communication issues of the child.

We have attached a completed FAI form for you to read. As you can see, there is much more detailed information included in the FAI than in the MAS. We have also included a blank copy of the FAI that you might want to use.

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