This literature review looked at the evidence for environmental causes for challenging behaviours, looking at 173 empirical studies where functional assessment served as the primary method of identifying causes of challenging behaviour. Most studies identified a clear function or functions, most commonly attention, efforts to acquire tangibles, negative reinforcement in the form of escape and sensory stimulation.
Examples are provided regarding how these conditions are investigated across studies. Biological and cognitive causes have also been demonstrated. The authors suggest the empirical literature is currently limited by the fact that most studies have been correlational.
What is the evidence for environmental causes of challenging behaviors in persons with intellectual disabilities and autism spectrum disorders? Matson J et al, in Research in Developmental Disabilities, 32, 2, 693-698.