Scottish study finds need for better knowledge of positive behaviour strategies for children with learning disabilities


How staff supporting children with learning disabilities and challenging behaviour is clearly of major importance. This Scottish study set out to look at the knowledge that teaching staff had regarding definitions of and management of challenging behaviour displayed by children with learning disability.

They found that the levels of knowledge amongst staff levels were relatively low. Those participants in the sample were likely to define challenging behaviour by function or topography.

In terms of knowledge or understanding of responses to challenging behaviour, they found that the staff were largely unaware of positive programming strategies. The authors state their concern that this may mean staff are poorly equipped to appropriately manage challenging behaviour in the longer term.

They also found that staff attributions of challenging behaviour were associated with reduced helping behaviour and increased anger.

The authors conclude that their findings suggest the need for better training and support of teaching staff to ensure that they have better and more up to date knowledge of challenging behaviour and more positive attributions.

Teaching staff knowledge, attributions and confidence in relation to working with children with an intellectual disability and challenging behaviour, Rae, H., et al., in  British Journal of Learning Disabilities, 39: 295–301.

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John Northfield

After qualifying as a social worker, John worked in community learning disability teams before getting involved in a number of long-stay hospital closure programmes, working to develop individual plans for people moving into their own homes. He worked for BILD, helping to develop the Quality Network and was editorial lead for the NHS electronic library learning disabilities specialist collection. This led him to found the Learning Disabilities Elf site with Andre Tomlin as a way of making the evidence accessible to practitioners in health and social care. Most recently he has worked as part of Mencap's national quality team and also been involved in a number of national website developments, including the General Medical Council's learning disabilities site.

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