Challenging behaviour in adults is complex. Trying to prevent an adult who struggles with communication and self-regulation from harming themselves or others whilst still respecting their dignity can require a range of strategies, many of which can be learned through challenging behaviour training.
What is challenging behaviour?
Many behaviours can come under the “challenging” label, some of them more serious than others. Being frequently disruptive, such as screaming or banging things, can be considered challenging behaviour, as can aggressive or violent behaviour. Sexually inappropriate behaviour may also be included.
Adults who display challenging behaviour may be autistic, have learning difficulties, be mentally ill, have suffered a traumatic brain injury or have a neurodegenerative condition such as dementia. Challenging behaviour may be the only way they can communicate that their basic needs are not being met.
Managing challenging behaviour in adults
The idea of undergoing challenging behaviour training as a carer is to safeguard both their safety and your own. This includes accurate assessments of risk, how to de-escalate and how to use only the bare minimum of force, if it becomes necessary.
One important aspect of managing challenging behaviour is recognising early-warning signs. Major explosions are normally preceded by minor incidents. This requires constant attention. Knowing the most common triggers for challenging behaviour, such as loud noises or certain smells, can help you prevent adverse reactions. Take note of what precedes incidents of challenging behaviour to help you identify causes. Factors such as time of day, temperature, and anyone else present may be relevant.
Do not ignore challenging behaviour but avoid reinforcing the idea that it is an effective way to attract attention. If there is no direct risk of harm, it may be safer to leave them to self-soothe. Remain calm and avoid forcibly restraining them unless absolutely necessary.
It is not easy to manage challenging behaviour, but by being patient and attentive, you can recognise the warning signs, take early steps to de-escalate and minimise any use of force. This will lead to both you and the service user being safer and more comfortable.