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Functional Behavior Assessment for People with Autism

Making Sense of Seemingly Senseless Behavior, Second Edition
Beth A. Glasberg, Ph.D., BCBA-D & Robert H. LaRue, Ph.D., BCBA-D


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isbn# 978-1-60613-204-3
5 1/2" x 8 1/2"
172 pages

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"Like habits, all behaviors are learned, serving as a form of communication. However, discerning what the person with autism is trying to communicate is difficult, at best. Historically, 'make the punishment fit the crime' was the time-honored—but not necessarily best—curbing method. This book takes a more proactive approach, asking instead why the behavior is happening. Glasberg (director of Glasberg Behavioral Consulting Svcs., LLC; coauthor, Siblings of Children with Autism) and LaRue (director of Behavioral and Research Svcs., Douglass Developmental Disabilites Ctr., Rutgers Univ.) offer parents, teachers, and caregivers the tools to track behaviors and discover their roots. Using real-life examples and a straightforward explanation of Learning Theory, data can be entered into simple charts and compiled to assist in discovering the why of the action. Once the desired communication (attention or avoidance, for example) is discerned, strategies can be put in place.
VERDICT A deeper exploration of work with adults on the spectrum (in the real-life scenarios, for example) would be helpful, as there is little here that specifically addresses that population. On the other hand, the data-collection method behind Functional Behavior Assessment is the same across the board. Recommended reading for all parents, teachers, and caregivers, as every child could benefit from the principles in this book."
-Library Journal, February 1, 2015

"Children who fall within the autism spectrum can exhibit behavior that's baffling, frustrating, even maddening to those who care most about them. Behaviors ranging from rocking back and forth to hitting and biting others seem random—even deliberately belligerent—to parents, teachers, and peers. Fortunately, it is possible to dispassionately evaluate these behaviors and devise a scientific way of lessening their occurrence. Beth A. Glasberg and Robert H. LaRue's Fuctional Behavior Assessment for People with Autism is a straightforward, useful guide for parents and educators on how to calmly and logically deal with the emotionally draining episodes that can plague autistic children.

First, throw out everything you think you know about what motivates children to change. Odds are, you're already doing it wrong. A simple thing like that old parental standby—the timeout—could only be encouraging your autistic child to engage in destructive behavior. If there is any one thing that all children on the spectrum have in common, it's an uneasiness in social situations. If hitting, head-banging, being destructive brings on a time-out (an adult removing them from social interaction), then autistic kids learn that this behavior is rewarded.

Most important is to find what is truly motivating an autistic child to act a certain way, keeping in mind that they may lack the social skills to communicate in a nondestructive way. The book outlines specific ways of determining the child's motivations and internal reward system. Then the authors give examples of how this internal reward system can be altered to lessen the behavior. Sidebars throughout give quick tips on how to keep it simple, and ‘practice examples’ give real-world strategies for dealing with autistic behavior.

This book is set up for a group effort—parents and educators alike. But, for anybody who deals with autistic children, there's something comforting about a book like this, of step-by-step explanations and answers for parents at their wit's end. The calm, scientific, yet easy-to understand tone creates a feeling that the answers can be found within. And it all makes logical sense."
-ForeWord Reviews, Spring 2015

"The bulk of the book describes the steps of a functional behavior assessment and provides very practical suggestions. Guidelines and examples in which these have been applied as well as the provision of more than a dozen sample data collection forms support the reader to complete a functional behavior assessment successfully."
-Canadian Journal of Occupational Therapy, June 2015

"Challenging behaviors run the gamut from baffling to downright terrifying. Through vividly pointed retelling of actual stories, the authors take the serious and emotionally charged issues of difficult behaviors and boil them down to easy-to-understand ‘lay’ language and tools that every reader—whether parent or professional—can understand and transform."
-Keri Bowers, filmmaker, author, autism advocate/educator, but always an autism mom first

"Glasberg and LaRue's book provides a comprehensive guide to developing FBAs conceptually grounded in the science of applied behavior analysis. The book will be a great go-to resource for parents, teachers, and care providers of individuals with ASD, as well as other individuals who exhibit similar challenging behavior."
-Joel Ringdahl, Ph.D., BCBA
Associate Professor, Southern Illinois University

"Recommended for academic libraries, public libraries and health resource centers."
-CAPHIS Consumer Connections

"[H]ighly recommended and instructive reading--particularly for the parents and classroom teachers of autistic children."
-Library Bookwatch, February 2015

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