What is the function, or reason, for the behaviour?

People engage in millions of different behaviours each day, but the purpose or "functions" of these different behaviours tend to fall into the categories listed below.  Remember: once the function has been met the problem behaviour should stop. If it doesn't stop then you haven't identified the correct function and you will need to revisit the information you have entered.  This is a good result – the more functions you rule out the closer you will get to the true function.

These functions are to either get access to, or to stop/avoid:

  • Stimulation or sensation: This could be escaping from a sensation that is unpleasant (such as a noisy hall or flickering light) or accessing something that is enjoyable.  Remember, everybody has different sensory preferences, so what is normal or enjoyable for one person may be uncomfortable or distressing for another.
  • An item or activity: This could be escaping or avoiding an activity or task that is difficult or not enjoyable, or gaining access to a favourite or preferred item or activity (e.g. access to technology).
  • Social situation with child: This could be any behaviour to get or stop focused attention from siblings, peers, or other children that are around them.  Remember, whilst some individuals find attention from other children positive, others will find it unpleasant and will therefore show behaviours to try and make it stop.  
  • Social situation with adult:  This could be any behaviour to get or stop focused attention from parents, teachers or other people that are around them.  Remember, being disciplined and told-off might sometimes be a form of gaining engagement from adults.

With this information in mind, take some time to look through the diagram that you have completed and think about what changed as a result of the behaviour. Remember, use the information in the diagram to inform you; sometimes the function of behaviours can surprise people!

Last updated 24 September 2020