Challenging Behaviour

This is the first in a series of articles about challenging behaviour. In later articles I will draw upon my experience of supporting children with challenging behaviour and their families, as well as ideas and strategies drawn from other people’s experiences.

challenging behaviourTo begin, however, I’d just like to introduce the field and clear up some terminology that I’ll be using.

‘Challenging Behaviour’ in these pages will be used to refer to behaviour displayed by young people whose behaviour in school or at home is difficult for adults to understand and/or manage. Further, it refers to behaviour which is deemed difficult or problematic because it puts the safety of the person or others in danger of physical harm, or has a significant impact on the quality of life of the person or the people around them. Behaviour of this type is not limited to people with a learning disability, but is far more common than in people without disabilities.

Examples of challenging behaviour include, without being limited to; biting, kicking, hitting, eye-poking, self-injury (head-banging, biting, scratching), tearing clothes, breaking windows, running off, eating inedible objects, stereotyped movements.

Supporting somebody with challenging behaviour is complex and at times quite draining. Change can take a very long time to elicit, and will undoubtedly require changes to the person’s environment – including importantly changes to the way other people behave. There are many things which can be done. Popular approaches to supporting children and adults with challenging behaviour often use an approach called applied behaviour analysis.

Following articles will discuss some of the issues around challenging behaviour in more detail, including;

  • Why does it happen, and what can be done?
  • Communication
  • Self-injurious behaviour
  • Functional Analysis
  • Pica (Eating inedible objects)
  • Physical intervention, and specialist equipment

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