Abstract of C. Oliver lecture


C. Oliver
Cerebra Centre for Neurodevelopmental Disorders, School of Psychology,
University of Birmingham, UK

A substantial body of empirical research shows that challenging
behaviours, such as aggression and self-injury, are significantly
influenced by the broad and immediate social and material
environment. Causal models typically draw on operant learning theory
to account for this association with implications for assessment and
intervention. As this explanation has the capacity to predict most
incidents of challenging behaviour at cohort and individual levels and,
consequently, successful intervention, it has increasingly been
accepted as a complete and sufficient account of the determinants of
challenging behaviour. However, there is substantial evidence that
person characteristics are associated with challenging behaviour and
this evidence extends from broad pervasive characteristics, such as
degree of intellectual disability and the presence of autism spectrum
disorder, to transient influences, such as the interaction between a
specific type of environmental event and a specific motivational state
associated with a genetic disorder. These characteristics warrant
examination, explanation and assessment in order to: 1) provide a
more complete account of challenging behaviour that incorporates all
robust empirical findings in the research literature, 2) acknowledge
that the lived experience of people with an intellectual disability may
differ in ways that make challenging behaviour more understandable
and 3) increase the effectiveness of interventions. In this presentation
relevant person characteristics are described and a model of
challenging behaviour that acknowledges both person and
environmental characteristics is outlined.

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