Challenging behaviour is more likely to occur if a person is disabled.

Each person’s story is different and unique, but a combination of impairments, environment, interpersonal relationships and other factors contribute to a behaviour being more or less likely to occur.

A disabled person is more likely to be put into a position where they have to develop some form of behaviour in order to have their needs met.

For example, an individual with autism who has a strong negative reaction to their personal space being invaded may learn that hitting people makes them move away.

Each behaviour has a function for the person displaying it.

Mental health, challenging behaviour and disability

People with learning difficulties can suffer from the same mental health and emotional difficulties that others do.

In many cases they can be less well equipped and supported to deal with them. It can be difficult to deal with anxiety if you do not have the words to describe what you are experiencing. It can be difficult to cope with depression if you do not have the social support to help you.

Sometimes challenging behaviour can be a sign of a wider problem with someone’s mental health.

Refusal to eat may be a sign that the person is feeling down, or aggressive behaviour could be a sign of high anxiety. It’s important to see the problem from the perspective of the person showing the behaviour.

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Tips on managing behaviour

Tips from parents and professionals who have experience of challenging behaviour