Intellectual impairment, ASD or other developmental disorders does not automatically mean that people will often present with behaviours that challenge

As a mental health nurse and intellectual disability nurse who has worked in the emergency department I have come across family members desperately looking for supports for their children. It is important to note that children with disabilities go through the same anxieties as everyone however can have difficulties in expressing themselves which results in behaviour outburst. Sometimes parents are quick to act and notice the triggers, early warning signs and support their child to learn new skills. Sometimes it can be difficult for parents to see the triggers and early warning signs resulting in responses that make situations worse or reactive responses such as use of medication or behavioural modification strategies which act as a bandage at times. Instead of rushing to medications here are some suggestions to help when a child is presenting with behaviours that challenge;

  • Initial step is to take note of the behaviour of concern and when they are occurring it might be prudent to keep a diary.
  • If the individual is under the NDIS discuss this with your support coordinator and the NDIS planner and try and get a behaviour practitioner involve.

Always remember a diagnosis is/are group of symptoms which guides professionals to a treatment pathway for an individual. For individuals with intellectual impairment it’s never a clear cut process , there is a lot aspects about someone ‘s presentation that has to be excluded which can present as mental illness symptoms. This requires a lot of resources which at times mental health services do not have therefore leaves the individuals needing support feeling desperate.

I am not saying that people with intellectual impairment do not experience mental illness, I am very aware that they are more likely to have an illness than the general population. The main purpose of this short article is to bring awareness to not rushing to medicate people without looking at what the evidence says in relation to exploring possible reasons for behaviour.

To understand more about PBSP have a look at the

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