Sample Case Study: Identifying Behavioral Function

Case Study: Identifying Behavioral Function

ABC Analysis

Antecedent Behavior Consequence
The teacher asks Lisa to stop playing dolls Lisa screams “No” and continues to play with her dolls The teacher tells Lisa to put her dolls down again
The teacher tells Lisa to put down her dolls Lisa looks down and clings to her doll. She refuses to move The teacher begins counting to 10 as a warning for Lisa to let go off the dolls and stand up
The teacher begins counting to 10 as a warning for Lisa to let go off the dolls and stand up Lisa looks up and spits at the teacher The teacher moves to where Lisa is and asks her to stop spitting
The teacher moves to where Lisa is and asks her to stop spitting Lisa stands up, starts running around in circles, and spits at everyone including her classmates who are forming a circle where she was playing The teacher warns her for the last time to stop the bad behavior
The teacher gives Lisa a final warning to control herself Lisa goes up the slide and continues spitting more aggressively The teacher gives up and joins the other students to continue with the next activity as Lisa cools down

Setting Events that Affect Behavior

From the case study, Lisa has a liking to certain activities, some of which she does not like at all. Among her favorite activities are stringing large beads, playing with dolls, pretend to play in the classroom play kitchen, snacks, and lunchtime. Among the activities that she does not like, or simply the ones she is not very good at include circle time with many transitions and engaging in academic skills, such as number and letter recognition, and writing. Lisa gets very upset when she is asked to leave an activity that she enjoys doing and her method of showing rebellion is spitting at anyone. She also gets upset when her classmates go to the place where she is playing because she prefers being alone and works best when left alone. She will spit at them when they try to join her or speak to her. She especially hates boys and this stems from the way her elder brother treats her at home. He always tries to get close to her and play with her but due to her nature, she views this as harassment.


Lisa’s behavior can be described as a socially mediated positive reinforcement behavior because it occurs when she does not want to partake in some particular activity. She has realized that when she acts this way, she is left alone to do what she wants by the community around her, teachers, and her classmates. In this way, they encourage the behavior.

Negative function of behavior has been ruled out because Lisa has not been discouraged to leave the behavior, and therefore the surrounding environment does not treat her behavior negatively. Sensory is applicable in cases where the child does not react but refuses to bulge when asked to do something. In other words, they just ignore and refuse to take action. Communication on the other hand applies when the child is verbally responsive and refuses to take action by saying ‘No” and even making an argument about it.

Intervention Strategies and Environmental Changes That Would be Effective to Address the Problem Behaviors

To deal with the issue at hand in regards to Lisa, it would be necessary to walk with Lisa through this and probably make her understand in her own way that she has to be with other children, and take part in other activities. Bringing out the fun part of the activities that she does not like taking part in would include integrating the two, for instance, in writing, she could be asked to write about her dolls, draw the beads that she likes stringing or write about her lunch box. With time, she could gradually get introduced to other things.

In addition, she could be gradually introduced into groups by beginning with a single person and slowly adding another group member as she gets used, and eventually she will be comfortable working with other children. It is also imperative that Lisa’s parents are included in this plan to ensure consistency both at home and school