Behayiour disorderschallenging behayiour

Behaviour disorders including aggression, self-injury, destructiveness, and disruptive, maladaptive, and antisocial behaviour occur commonly among the mentally retarded. Such behaviour has recently been called challenging behaviour, which emphasizes the need for appropriate care and supervision. These disorders are usually associated with severe mental retardation, but can also occur in individuals who are at a moderate and mild level of retardation.

Many attempts to distinguish between behaviour disorders and psychiatric illness in the mentally retarded have been made, but with little success. Gardner and Graeber(9) have proposed a bio-psychosocial diagnostic approach which takes account of the multiple factors underlying and maintaining the behaviour disturbances of a particular individual. They point out that behaviour disorders with a neuropsychiatric and organic basis can still acquire a functional component if they are being reinforced by the environment or are of value to the individual.

Aggressiye behayiour

Aggressive behaviour is a common problem among the mentally retarded. The symptom of aggression is often a feature of the psychosis, depression, or antisocial personality disorder and is often described in genetic disorders such as the fragile X, Prader-Willi, and Klinefelter syndromes. Learned aggression through the imitation of aggressive models or as a function of communication is also found relatively frequently among people with mental retardation.

Self-injurious behayiour

Self-injurious behaviour occurs more often among persons with moderate and severe mental retardation (IQ < 50) most frequently between the ages of 10 and 30, with a peak between 15 and 20 years of age. The occurrence of self-injurious behaviour is related to genetic and organic disturbances and adverse environmental and developmental conditions. Certain psychiatric disorders such as depression may also elicit self-injurious behaviour.

Offending behayiour

Owing to their challenging behaviour, these individuals may become involved in activities which bring them into conflict with the law. Insufficient understanding of their problems and needs may result in their not receiving the appropriate support from the social services. The typical mentally retarded offender is, according to Day, a young male functioning in the mild to borderline intellectual range, from a poor urban environment with a history of psychosocial deprivation, behaviour problems, and personality disorder. The most common offences are acquisitive and technical, but sex offences and arson are considerably over-represented.

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