By Eric Emerson
By Stewart L. Einfeld
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print Publication Year: 2011
Online Publication Date:May 2011
Chapter DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511861178.006
Subjects: Psychiatry and Clinical Psychology
The two great strengths of behavioural approaches were, first and foremost, to draw attention to potential environmental determinants of challenging behaviour and, second, to adopt a stringent approach to evidence that established without doubt that for some people environmental determinants are central to understanding their challenging behaviour. Within these strengths, however, also lie the roots of some of the weaknesses of behavioural perspectives. In particular, the particular approach to evidence adopted within the applied behavioural research community (presenting a ‘believable demonstration’ through establishing experimental control), when combined with the potential powerful effects of altering reinforcement contingencies, has focused attention almost exclusively on the role of proximal environmental determinants of challenging behaviour that can be readily manipulated and brought under experimental control. While the potential limitations and narrowness of such an approach have long been recognized (Morris and Midgley, 1990; Willems, 1974), such concerns have had relatively little impact on applied behavioural research.
In this chapter we will review the evidence that suggests that understanding and effectively responding to the challenging behaviour shown by people with severe intellectual disabilities requires that we take a much broader view of potential environmental influences. But first, a word of warning; little of the evidence we call on in this chapter is specific to challenging behaviour shown by people with severe, rather than mild, intellectual disabilities.
Reference Type: reference-list