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Functional Assessment vs Psychological Evaluation

A functional assessment is a required initial step in any behavior plan. It helps BCBA identify behavioral problems, hypothesize their triggers, and guide the developmental treatment. This type of treatment is done with the aid of parents, caregivers, teachers, and anyone else in the client's environment. If the client is able to participate then it will make the procedure even more effective. Some types of these screening tools/assessments are Questions About Behavior Function (QABF) or the Motivation Assessment Scale (MAS, as well as Functional Assessment screening tools (FAST ). This type of assessment could be conducted in the natural environment/office/home/school/videos or where the behavior is occurring and can be observed directly. Direct assessments can include narratives, A-B-C data, scatterplot data, and more.


  • You can see the full range of antecedents and consequences

  • Any environmental variables affecting the behavior can be observed


  • The data is correlational

  • May have reactivity from the client

  • Could be difficult to obtain an adequate sample of the behavior

Functional assessments are completed by BCBA/BCaBA

A psychological evaluation is used to assess and identify the strength and weaknesses of an individual over multiple areas. The evaluations measure areas such as attention, problem-solving, memory, language, I.Q., visual-spatial skills, academic skills, and social-emotional functioning. A type of Psychological evaluation is a neuropsychological evaluation that can help clarify diagnoses related to a range of learning and psychological concerns and develop specific recommendations to address a child’s needs at home and at school as well as determine potential Neurological problems. Recommendations for particular therapies and methods as they relate to specific diagnoses stemming from the neuropsychological assessment can also be made. The results of a problem, or multiple problem areas, can also assist parents in better understanding their child’s strengths and weaknesses and addressing related concerns in the home setting. Neuropsychological assessments are administered by neuropsychologists who possess a doctoral degree in psychology, and advanced training in neuropsychology.

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