Research Issues in Functional Assessment of the Challenging Behaviors of Students With Emotional and Behavioral Disorders

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One of the more significant developments in the treatment of challenging behavior has been the development of techniques of functional assessment and intervention. Much research in this area and many of the instruments and techniques initially focused on chronic aberrant behavior of persons with severe disabilities. More recently, functional assessment has been applied to students who have or are at risk for emotional and behavioral disorders (E/BD) and who have mild or no cognitive disabilities. Studies involving functional assessment of students with E/BD and those who are at risk for E/BD are reviewed in three main areas: (1) characteristics of participants; (2) types of functional assessment procedures and instruments employed; and (3) the reliability and validity of these instruments and procedures. Issues for future research in functional assessment are detailed.