Treatments for the challenging behaviours of adults with intellectual disabilities

Johnny L. Matson, Department of Psychology, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA, USA.
Daniene Neal
Alison M. Kozlowski


OBJECTIVE: To provide an overview and critical assessment of common problems and best evidence practice in treatments for the challenging behaviours (CBs) of adults with intellectual disabilities (IDs). METHOD: Commonly observed problems that present obstacles to successful treatment plans are discussed, followed by an analysis of available research on the efficacy of behavioural and pharmacological therapies. RESULTS: Behavioural and pharmacological interventions are most commonly used when addressing CBs in people with IDs. However, within each of these techniques, there are methods that have support in the literature for efficacy and those that do not. As clinicians, it is important to follow research so that we are engaging in best practices when developing treatment plans for CBs. CONCLUSIONS: One of the most consuming issues for psychiatrists and other mental health professionals who work with people who evince developmental disabilities, such as IDs, are CBs. These problems are very dangerous and are a major impediment to independent, less restrictive living. However, there is a major gap between what researchers show is effective and much of what occurs in real-world settings.