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Behaviours that challenge

Many individuals with autism will display behaviours of some description that challenge. Largely, these behaviours occur as a result of the person finding it hard to communicate.

In this context, people often refer to aggression or self-injurious behaviour, when in reality we should consider it to be any behaviour that has a negative effect on the person and their family. Behaviour could include, though is not restricted to:

  • Self-injurious behaviour such as head banging, biting, scratching
  • Aggression to others such as hitting, hair pulling, throwing objects
  • Screaming or yelling
  • Running away

It is important to remember that all behaviours serve a unique purpose to the individual. Understanding why these behaviours occur is an important step in preventing any harm to the individual. Learn more about the functions of behaviour.

Functions of behaviour

Providing an alternative

Behaviours that challenge are learnt in the same way that all behaviour is. What happens after the behaviour is the most significant part as this is how behaviour is reinforced. If a child wants attention and they gain attention for behaviour that challenges, it will make it more likely to occur again in the future. By providing an alternative to the behaviours and redirecting their attention you can diffuse the situation and decrease the likelihood of the behaviour occurring again. Understand more about the ‘why’ of behaviour here.

Coping with behaviours in public

It can be difficult if these behaviours occur in public. It may be hard to explain the situation to passers-by if you are also trying to keep your child safe. Carrying cards explaining your child’s behaviour can help. Download an example here.

Child on the floor

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