• functional analysis;
  • functional communication training;
  • precursor behavior;
  • response class;
  • severe problem behavior

Functional analysis has been demonstrated to be an effective method to identify environmental variables that maintain problem behavior. However, there are cases when conducting functional analyses of severe problem behavior may be contraindicated. The current study applied functional analysis procedures to a class of behavior that preceded severe problem behavior (precursor behavior) and evaluated treatments based on the outcomes of the functional analyses of precursor behavior. Responding for all participants was differentiated during the functional analyses, and individualized treatments eliminated precursor behavior. These results suggest that functional analysis of precursor behavior may offer an alternative, indirect method to assess the operant function of severe problem behavior.