© 2012

Functional Assessment for Challenging Behaviors

  • Johnny L. Matson

Part of the Autism and Child Psychopathology Series book series (ACPS)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-ix
  2. Johnny L. Matson
    Pages 1-1
  3. Dennis R. Dixon, Talya Vogel, Jonathan Tarbox
    Pages 3-24
  4. Robert Didden, Peter Sturmey, Jeff Sigafoos, Russell Lang, Mark F. O’Reilly, Giulio E. Lancioni
    Pages 25-44
  5. Giulio E. Lancioni, Nirbhay N. Singh, Mark F. O’Reilly, Jeff Sigafoos, Robert Didden
    Pages 45-64
  6. John M. Huete, Patricia F. Kurtz, R. Justin Boyd
    Pages 65-89
  7. Sarah Hurwitz, Noha F. Minshawi
    Pages 91-103
  8. Alison M. Kozlowski, Johnny L. Matson
    Pages 105-124
  9. Timothy R. Vollmer, Henry S. Roane, Amanda B. Rone
    Pages 125-141
  10. Max Horovitz, Johnny L. Matson
    Pages 143-158
  11. Megan Sipes, Johnny L. Matson
    Pages 159-177
  12. Nicole M. Rodriguez, Wayne W. Fisher, Michael E. Kelley
    Pages 179-193
  13. Deborah A. Napolitano, Vicki Madaus Knapp, Elizabeth Speares, David B. McAdam, Holly Brown
    Pages 195-211
  14. Alan Poling, Jennifer L. Austin, Stephanie M. Peterson, Amanda Mahoney, Marc Weeden
    Pages 213-233
  15. Back Matter
    Pages 235-243

About this book


As the cornerstone of applied behavior analysis, functional assessment is supported by a burgeoning literature that focuses on identification of and interventions for aggressive, self-injurious, and other challenging behaviors. Although the number of research studies continues to grow, full-length volumes on using functional assessment to address these behaviors remain few and far between.

Comprehensive in coverage, Functional Assessment for Challenging Behaviors expands the knowledge base by providing information on all aspects of its topic. This unique volume addresses basic questions in salient detail, from types and rates of challenging behaviors to populations that warrant functional assessment. In addition, it examines typical assessment techniques, including interview, scaling, experimental, and in vivo methods. The use of functional assessment in treatment planning – and in combination with other interventions – is covered in depth. An especially timely chapter identifies key ethical and legal concerns in working with challenging behavior populations.

Coverage includes:

  • The history of behavior analysis and functional assessment.
  • The nature, prevalence, and characteristics of challenging behaviors.
  • Interview and observation methods in functional assessment and analysis.
  • Experimental functional analysis for challenging behaviors.
  • Treatment methods commonly used with functional assessment.
  • Using functional assessment in treatment planning.

Functional Assessment for Challenging Behaviors is an essential resource for researchers, scientist-practitioners, and graduate students in clinical child and school psychology, pediatric psychiatry and medicine, social work, rehabilitation, and developmental psychology.


ABA ASD Applied behavior Analysis Assessment Autism Behavioral function Challenging behaviors Developmental disabilities Ethical issues Experimental functional analysis Functional analysis Functional assessment IDEA Individuals with Disabilities Education Act Intellectual disabilities Interventions Interview methods Legal issues PDDs Pervasive developmental disabilities Replacement behaviors Scaling methods Special education

Editors and affiliations

  • Johnny L. Matson
    • 1
  1. 1., Department of PsychologyLouisiana State UniversityBaton RougeUSA

About the editors

Johnny L. Matson is Professor and Distinguished Research Master, and Director of Clinical Training in the Department of Psychology at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, LA. Prior to his 25 year tenure at LSU, Dr. Matson was a professor of Psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. He is the author of over 600 publications including 34 books, and he is editor-in-chief of two journals; Research in Developmental Disorders and Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders.

Bibliographic information

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From the reviews:

“This text was well-written and flows well. … The authors labor on about how functional assessments are implemented, which undoubtedly would be useful detail for a beginning practitioner or college student. … this is a useful resource for college students as well as clinicians practicing in evidence-based child mental health. The editors were able to summarize pertinent research in a wide area and condense it into a logical sequence. They were able to describe challenging behaviors and the importance of functional assessments.” (Karen Li, Courageous Psychology,, July, 2013)

"Those from fields of clinical psychology, school psychology, applied behavior analysis, pediatric psychiatry, social work, and developmental psychology, will appreciate the review and update of essential theory and applied information offered in this volume... For those using applied behavior analysis, the text addresses current issues and questions in the field, with the newest findings about the application of functional analysis to challenging behaviors... The book provides a clear, cogent presentation about where behaviorism has come from conceptually, what changes and advancements have occurred, and where things have landed." (Julie Nelson, Psychology Times, Vol. 4 (10), June 2013)

“Functional Assessment for Challenging Behaviors provides clinicians the foundational knowledge needed to teach parents how to understand the causes of behavior in order to change future behavioral responses … . Matson and colleagues describe the technology and methods that are essential for clinicians who want to work with families where presenting concerns are complex and difficult behavioral problems. The book provides a summary of the techniques and methods for analyzing behavior in the context of environmental antecedents and consequences.” (Carol Naumann McKarrin, PsycCRITIQUES, Vol. 58 (16), April, 2013)

“This book discusses applying behavior theory to difficult behaviors including self-injurious behavior (SIB), stereotypic behavior, aggressive behavior, and feeding disorders. … This book is easy to read and contains good information to assist clinicians in addressing problematic behaviors. … This book does a good job of providing answers for assessing and treating problematic behaviors. … The book should be in the libraries of clinicians and researchers who are assisting individuals with more serious/persistent behavior problems.” (Gary B. Kaniuk, Doody’s Review Service, December, 2012)