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Understanding Challenging Behaviour

The term “challenging behaviour” has been used to refer to the “difficult” or “problem” behaviours which may be shown by children or adults with a learning disability including:

  • Aggression (e.g. hitting)
  • Self injury (e.g. head banging)
  • Destruction (e.g. throwing objects)
  • Other behaviours (e.g. running away)

Challenging behaviour can put the safety of the person or others at risk or have a significant effect on the person’s every day life.

Why does it happen?

Most children without learning disabilities display lots of challenging behaviour during the “terrible twos,” but usually this doesn’t last because most 2-year olds develop a range of communication and social skills which enable them to get what they want and need more easily. Many children with learning disabilities do not develop these skills and are left with the same needs as other children their age but are much less able to get them met.

Many cases of challenging behaviour appear to be effective ways for a person with learning disability to control what is going on around them.