In 1998 Abilities Community Services was formed with a primary purpose of supporting people with challenging behaviours. When we started Abilities we had the great pleasure to work with Nathan Ory, a Victoria based psychologist, who focuses on working with challenging behaviours.

What is challenging behavior?

Ory defines challenging behaviors as behaviours that involve disruptive actions by persons who don’t respond as expected regardless of our attempts to redirect or calm them down. We may employ the usual procedures of extra prompting, guidance, motivation, training, or explicit direction or correction—all to no avail. These are persons who become more passive, more resistive, more agitated and emotional, or more violent in response to our attempts to give such support, direction or correction.

Why isn’t what you’re doing working?

Usual procedures, applied competently, should work. But with people with very persistent, challenging behavior who don’t respond to common sense approaches, or to most professional approaches, or who rarely respond, no matter what we do, regardless of level of caregiver skill or professional training, there must be something else going on. For these people, the answer is not found by addressing the challeng­ing behavior with more sophisticated techniques.

The answer is found by approaching each person as a unique individual, and by realistically accommodating his/her unique needs. Our goal is to recognize this individuality and work to support individuals in an active, safe and engaging program. We view all behaviour as communication and believe that once we ‘speak’ the same language we can provide the necessary support.

In future blogs I will begin discussing our strategies for supporting people with challenging behaviours.