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Using contingency diagrams in the functional assessment of challenging behaviour

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It is considered good practice to complete a functional assessment before designing interventions for challenging behaviour. Assessment typically generates a lot of information that requires careful analysis and interpretation before a formulation is made. What the data mean then often has to be communicated to people who are not behaviourally trained. Experience suggests contingency diagrams may have analytic and explanatory value, yet they are rarely seen in clinical practice. This may be because practitioners are not familiar with the process of constructing diagrams or because diagrams are believed to lack the power to describe complex behavioural systems. This article reviews the basic components of behavioural contingencies and how they operate on the behaviour of carers as well as clients. A framework is described for summarising data from multiple assessments and mapping systems that appear to maintain the occurrence of challenging behaviour in individual cases. An example is presented from clinical practice and the implications for practitioners are briefly discussed.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: March 1, 2012

More about this publication?
  • Positive behavioural support (PBS) combines the conceptual framework of applied behaviour analysis with the values base of social role valorisation and framework of person-centred approaches. The International Journal of Positive Behavioural Support is a peer-reviewed publication that aims to:

    · define and promote good practice in relation to the use of PBS

    · add to the evidence base regarding such interventions

    · demonstrate how PBS interventions can support people to change their challenging behaviours, improve their quality of life, and result in reductions in the use of restrictive procedures (such as physical intervention, seclusion and as required medication)

    · bridge the gap between academic research and service practice
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