KN Chris Oliver Oliver resized Speaker 

Chris Oliver   

University of Birmingham 


Challenging behaviour:  Individual difference matters

The substantial body of research into the relationship between the aetiology of intellectual disability and emotional, cognitive and behavioural phenotypes has resurrected the importance of individual difference. Identification of dimensions of difference in the research literature has broadened models of the causes of challenging behaviour beyond exclusively operant learning theory accounts that have neglected evidence that demonstrates a more limited role for the environment than previously claimed. Review of the behavioural phenotype literature reveals substantial individual difference on the dimensions of physical health, sensory experience, social motivation and cognition, and cognitive and emotional profile that directly and indirectly influence behaviour when an individual engages with their environment. These dimensions of difference cannot be ignored and should be afforded equal weight to that given to environmental characteristics when designing interventions or personalised services. Meaningful and robust appraisal of these dimensions of difference is the next challenge that will enable the design of environments that can cater for differences of importance.