Descriptive analyses involve observing behavior and identifying common events that occur after the behavior and looking at the proportion of time specific consequences follow a behavior compared to other consequences. Descriptive analyses yield a hypothesis for the function(s) of problem behavior(s).
Functional analyses involve interviewing those who know the individual, observing the individual, and then setting up control and test conditions in which the consequence(s) that are thought to maintain the problem behavior are delivered only after the problem behavior occurs (test condition) or throughout the entire duration of a condition (control condition). Alternating between these two yields data about how often the behavior occurs in each which enables the Behavior Analyst to determine what consequence(s) causes the problem behavior(s). Functional analyses are much more accurate than descriptive analyses for identifying the consequence(s) that maintain problem behaviors. They also often take even less time than a descriptive assessment where hours and hours of observations are needed just to come up with a hypothesis (which in many cases has been demonstrated in studies to be inaccurate).
Skill and Milestone Assessments (ABLLS-R, VB-MAPP, ALFS, PEAK, Social Skills)
Identify critical areas to focus on for early intensive behavioral intervention, the ABLLS-R and VB-MAPP offer helpful starting points. The VB-MAPP is the more useful skill assessment because it is organized to evaluate skills at each developmental level (0-18 months, 18-36 months, 36-48 months).
PEAK is an assessment and curriculum that incorporates traditional verbal behavior approaches and adds components to evaluate and teach through equivalence and relational learning to create derived responding. It includes many of the skill areas on the ABLLS and VB-MAPP and goes beyond both of the previous assessments to evaluate more complex language that is needed to have meaningful conversations that often require abstract language.
Adolescents who have significant areas of need can benefit from ongoing skills assessments such as the AFLS that focus on daily living skills at home, the community, and school.
Many adolescents with autism struggle socially. Assessing skill using the Social Skills Rating Scale (SSRS) can help to focus the targets for intensive behavioral interventions to address social skills deficits (for example, using the Teaching Interaction Procedure to teach social skills such as accepting constructive feedback, sharing, showing empathy, etc).
Help to identify the specific behaviors needed for a child to be successful in a given environment, including the amount of different behaviors that represent typical patterns. Ecological assessments often involve observing how child performs in specific environments compared to a sample of typical peers in that environment.
These assessments can help determine what learning value a child is getting from specific environment and whether that environment is appropriate given the child's skills compared to those required to be successful in that environment.