Behaviours of Concern

What are behav­iours of concern?

Behav­iours of Con­cern are per­sis­tent behav­iours that cause dif­fi­cul­ties and lim­its a person’s abil­i­ty to have a good life. Often they are called chal­leng­ing’ because it chal­lenges every­one who sup­ports the per­son to under­stand why it is hap­pen­ing and to work togeth­er to find a solution.

Why do they happen?

1. Indi­vid­ual skills, chal­lenges and experiences

All peo­ple have a range of strengths, abil­i­ties and needs. For some peo­ple with a dis­abil­i­ty they need assis­tance to ensure their needs are met. For exam­ple, peo­ple on the autism spec­trum have some dif­fi­cul­ty in being able to com­mu­ni­cate and will feel strong frus­tra­tion if they are not sup­port­ed to com­mu­ni­cate their needs. In this sit­u­a­tion a per­son may use oth­er ways (such as behav­iours) to get their mes­sage across.

Often, these behav­iours pay off’ – par­ents, car­ers and oth­ers respond and give the per­son what they want and then the behav­iour is learned over time (this isn’t to say you should just ignore behav­iour). Over time, a build-up of chal­leng­ing behav­iour can result in fun activ­i­ties being stopped, rela­tion­ships being strained and neg­a­tive per­cep­tions of the per­son, all lead­ing to a poor qual­i­ty of life for the person.

2. The oth­er peo­ple in our lives

Pro­vid­ing good qual­i­ty sup­port for peo­ple with a dis­abil­i­ty requires addi­tion­al knowl­edge that is beyond every­day par­ent­ing or teach­ing, and a range of sup­ports. With­out this addi­tion­al knowl­edge and sup­port (and despite everyone’s best efforts) it is pos­si­ble that there is a mis­match between a person’s sup­port needs and what is being pro­vid­ed to them.

This mis­match can increase the like­li­hood of behav­iours of con­cern. Our bod­ies are made to react to chal­leng­ing sit­u­a­tions in a par­tic­u­lar way (‘fight, flight or freeze’) and it can be dif­fi­cult to respond calm­ly and ratio­nal­ly to chal­leng­ing situations.

3. The envi­ron­ment, com­mu­ni­ty and cul­ture we live in 

Just as peo­ple who use a wheel­chair have a right to every­day envi­ron­ments that meet their spe­cif­ic needs and allow them to access life freely and ful­ly, peo­ple with cog­ni­tive impair­ments, sen­so­ry pro­cess­ing chal­lenges or on the autism spec­trum are the same. We know that pro­vid­ing spe­cif­ic sup­ports and using strate­gies to sup­port com­mu­ni­ca­tion, social and sen­so­ry needs, that build on a person’s strengths help them to live life freely and ful­ly. When these things are not in place we are more like­ly to see frus­tra­tion and behav­iours of concern.

We encour­age peo­ple to recog­nise that the own­er­ship of behav­iour is shared among all ele­ments involved in the inter­ac­tion not just the individual.