Understanding Challenging Behaviour Part 2

 ... quoted from the Autism Discussion Page, a very useful resource.

Understanding Challenging Behavior Part 2: Core Deficit Assessment

Understand the core deficits of the disability to interpret the function of behavior!

For most of us, the often extreme reactions we see in children on the spectrum can look bewildering to us. We are taught to look at the observable triggers of the behavior, and the observable effects that the behavior has, in order to understand the “function” that behavior serves. However, what we see on the observable surface is not enough to understand the function the behavior serves. We often are quick to punish, or extinguish, a behavior, before understanding the adaptive function the behavior serves the child.

It is important to understand the core deficits of the disability to understand the true functions the behavior serves (what the behavior is communicating). You have to understand the (1 sensory challenges (sensory defensiveness, overload, arousal issues), (2) cognitive deficits (inflexible, black and white thinking; difficulty shifting gears; limited ability to evaluate consequences; poor empathy, etc.), (3) emotional deficits (poor frustration tolerance, limited emotional regulation, emotional overload, etc.), (4) social difficulties (difficulty reading social cues, reading effects their behavior has on others, etc.) (5) communication issues (difficulty expressing thoughts, feelings, and perspectives) and (6) medical/biological issues (digestive, allergies, weak immune system, etc.) in order to understand the “adaptive function” that drives the behavior. Once we understand the “core deficits” of the disability, the behavior is much easier to understand. In addition, once this function is identified, then we can provide the proactive supports needed to lessen the stressors driving the behavior, and teach more acceptable, alternative behavior to serve the same function.

If your child is having problems at home, or school, make sure those who are designing strategies for changing the behavior, understand your child’s unique vulnerabilities, and core deficits, that will help explain the behavior. Until you understand how the child experiences the world, you will often misinterpret what the behavior is communicating. The two links below will take you to two documents that will help you indentify and understand some of the core deficits (vulnerabilities) that must be understood. The first (Fragile World on the Spectrum) gives a summary of the different areas of vulnerabilities and strategies to support them, and the second document, “core deficit assessment” scale, you can use to help identify the your child’s specific vulnerabilities. If you understand these vulnerabilities, then you can accurately interpret why certain events result in such extreme reactions from the child. Understand first, before trying to change behavior. This is a simple check list that is meant to identify areas of vulnerability. It is not an all inclusive list, but a summary of common deficits that will lead you to look more closely into each areas of concern.

Fragile World on the Spectrum

Core Deficits Assessment Scale

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