For people with behaviours of distress (‘challenging behaviour’)
People with behaviour that challenges – we prefer the term behaviour of distress as that is what it is – such as Isabelle, Gillian, Aidan, Alan, Richard or Steve may have a history of repeatedly self-harming, damaging their surroundings, or abusing others verbally or physically.
At Dimensions, we know that behaviour that challenges is invariably a form of communication; it is a way for a person to control their environment when they cannot otherwise communicate their hopes, choices, needs and fears.
All too often behaviour of distress is cited as a barrier to community inclusion. It is part of a vicious circle that keeps people unnecessarily in secure hospitals, ruining lives.
Our experience is that when someone has the right support in the right home environment, challenging and distressed behaviour can usually be prevented or reduced.
Find out how Dimensions helps with housing.
What are behaviour of distress?
If a person’s behaviour puts themselves, or the people around them at risk, or it causes distress to others, this is often defined as challenging behaviour. This can lead to a poorer quality of life and increased support requirements. It can impact a person’s ability to join in everyday activities and lead to restrictions on a person’s life.
Examples of behaviour of distress may include (please note, this list is not exhaustive):
- Physical aggression
- Verbal aggression
- Damaging surroundings
What are the causes of behaviours of distress?
At Dimensions, we know that behaviours of distress is invariably a form of communication; it is a way for a person to control their environment when they cannot otherwise communicate their hopes, choices, needs and fears.
Behaviour of distress may occur when;
- An individual has problems understanding what is happening around them
- A person cannot communicate what they want or need
- A person is reacting to anxiety and stress
- A person is overwhelmed by sensory input
- An individual’s underlying medical conditions are causing distress
- A person is distressed by a specific situation
Skilled, personalised support can help a person avoid the need to behave in a challenging way. The first step is always acknowledging that behaviours of distress is a symptom of something else not being well.
Support for behaviours of distress
How Dimensions can help with behaviour of distress
All Dimensions support teams are trained to understand and meet the individual needs of the person they support through a support plan co-produced with family and wider circles of support.
In addition, the thirty members of our Positive Behaviour Support team specialise in understanding the roots of behaviours of distress and helping individuals to make structured changes to their environment– for example their staff, their housing, what they eat or wear or what they do.
The team uses sophisticated behavioural skills teaching techniques to teach the individual what to do when they encounter a challenging behaviour trigger. As people gain greater choice and control over their life, their behaviour of distress usually drops away.
Our behaviour support team uses sophisticated behavioural skills teaching techniques to teach the individual what to do when they encounter a behaviour of distress trigger.
Less behaviours of distress enables greater ambition. Dimensions has many examples of people whose support needs have dropped from multiple ratio staffing to just a few hours each week, enabling budgets to be redirected into getting more out of life.
Find out more about our support for people with challenging behaviour near you, click the button below:
What can I expect from behaviour of distress support?
We understand that the support needs to be tailored to every person individually, and we take a person-centred approach to all we do at Dimensions.
Primarily, you can expect us to focus on finding the roots of that behaviour of distress, developing tailored support plans with positive behaviour support approaches.
You can read real-life stories of the people we support, like Richard and Paul, to give you a better understanding of the outcomes of our support for people who display behaviours of distress.
Are there referral services available to support individuals with behaviours of distress?
Depending on where you live, referral services to support people with behaviours of distress may be available. Use the find local support feature on our site or get in touch to find out more.
What additional help and resources are available for those displaying challenging behaviour?
As well as the NHS, a number of charities and organisations provide advice and support for people who display behaviours of distress. Take a look at some of the resources below.
This NHS guide covers the many aspects of help from social services and charities
Mencap’s Learning Disability Helpline is a free helpline service offering advice and support for people with a learning disability, and their families and carers
A UK-wide confidential telephone service providing emotional support to parents and carers of autistic children and adults. The service is provided by trained parent volunteers who offer telephone support from their own homes.
Further reading and external resources
- Essential Guide to Challenging Behaviour and Autism – Research Autism
- Challenging Behaviours Tool Kit – Autism Speaks
- National Autistic Society page about challenging behaviour – National Autistic Society
- Advice and support for families with disabled children – Scope
- Challenging Behaviour Foundation
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