Behavior Problems

Children with Developmental and Intellectual Disabilities

An Understanding

To fully understand why a student is having behavior problems. No two situations are alike so what may be causing an issue for one child may not be a trigger to behavior problems in another. In order to get a good view to what is causing an issue, it is suggested that the child receive a functional assessment. This is an assessment that relies on a variety of techniques and strategies to identify the purpose of specific behavior and assist the IEP team to select interventions to specifically address problem behavior.

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Theories on Behavior Issues

Behavior problems are considerably more prevalent in children with developmental and intellectual disabilities than children without these disabilities (Mazzucchelli & Sanders, 2011). Some of these behavior problems include: being aggressive towards others (hitting, biting and pushing), harming oneself (cutting and biting), intense temper tantrums (stomping feet and yelling) and being destructive (breaking, throwing and kicking objects) (Green, O’Reilly, Itchon, & Sigafoos, 2005). These behavior problems can negatively impact their home life, school experiences and adult life. Parents may become overwhelmed with the behaviors and react negatively towards their children, teachers lose important teaching time from having to address the behaviors and the behaviors can make employment difficult (Mazzucchelli & Sanders, 2011).


The reason for the large amount of behavior issues for children with developmental and intellectual disabilities is not entirely clear. There appears to be a considerable presence of psychiatric diagnoses along with the other disabilities which may contribute to the behavioral issues (Crnic, Casey, Gaze,& Edel, 2004). Another possible reason for the significant behavior problems in children with these types disabilities is the difficulty with communication. A large number of these students have a difficult time expressing their needs and wants. They are unable to tell someone if they are feeling anxious, hungry or are sick, which can result in them becoming frustrated and then acting out.

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How Can We Help?

There are 3 common reasons for unwanted student behaviors in children with developmental disabilities.


Impulse control: Often these students will have problems connecting cause and effect. This causes problems with impulse control. A typical child can do something that causes an undesirable result and the child learns to not do that in the future. With the child that has a problem connecting cause and effect, they often times continue the behavior with disregard to possible negative outcomes.


One way to help with this is through a game called “Remote control Impulse Control”. This is a game designed by Franklin Learning Systems that has players read cards that represent real life situations the child might encounter. The child is required to pick between 3 cards as possible options for their responses to the situations. The idea is for this practice of real life situations and consequences will train them to make better choices when confronted with similar situations in real life.



Frustration Tolerance: This defined as the ability to withstand obstacles and stressful situations. Having this skill allows people tot endure the small frustrations of daily life(Pearl 2012). Often it is the case that children exhibit behavior problems because they are not able to develop this necessary skill to handle life. Their low tolerance level leads to misbehaving in many cases


To help combat this the child will need constant coaching on how to channel their anger into other areas when tense situations arise.

· They can do this by channeling their anger into positive activities such as drawing or exercise

· The child can be taught relaxing breathing techniques or to repeat a calming word in their head or out loud.

· The child can be taught to use their imagination to visualize a relaxing experience from their past or an imaginary one



Low self esteem: Self esteem naturally develops as children learn to solve problems. The problem with the learning disabled is that the ability to solve problems is limited. Skillful problem solving requires prolonged attention and persistence despite the difficulty of the task. This is a skill that is often lacking in these situations and therefore the frustration often manifest itself in the form of disruptive behavior.


To help with this, parents and teachers can:

· Help the child with problem solving and decision making skills.

· Avoid using judgmental comments and praise the effort the child puts forward be it successful or not.

· Help the child to find new strategies for learning what will help them feel more successful overall

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Multiple DIsabilities-Multiple Effects

“Most of the students served under the multiple disability category do have some level of cognitive impairment, but the specific diagnosis of this impairment can often be ambiguous or undetermined (Browder 2006).” The ability levels of these students can vary widely, from functional academics to basic life skills. However, most of these students are still quite capable of learning at their own level when provided the appropriate supports and materials.

Teaching students with severe or even multiple disabilities that have intellectual disabilities or developmental disabilities can be tough but definitely can be done. Teaching the students with the disabilities is tough but can be done but needs to have some pointers that you are focusing on: Systematic Instruction, Individualized, Age Appropriate and Culturally Responsive Learning, Active Family Involvement, Collaborative Teaming, and Positive Behavior Support.

“Students need to be taught by highly qualified teachers who know and recognize their abilities and can give high expectations and goals for the student’s growth and development (Hart 2004)”. Many barriers will arise but as long as they are overtaken then the student will be able to learn at there fullest potential. Many barriers that have to be over taken are: Low expectations, teachers that lack proper trainings, lack in the family’s involvement with the student, proper programming resources for teaching, environments that are appropriate for the students learning and even living.

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References

Browder, DM, Trela KC, Jimenez B. 2006. Increasing participation of middle school students with severe disabilities in reading of grade appropriate literature. Focus on Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities 22(4):206-219.


Crnic, K. Phd., Casey, H. Phd., Gaze, C. Phd, Edel, C. Phd. (2004). Understanding the emergence of behavior problems in young children with developmental delays. Infants and Young Children, 17(3), 223-235. Retrieved from https://depts.washington.edu/.../crnic_17_3.pdf


Green, Vanessa A., O’Reilly, Mark O., Jonathan, Itchon, & Sigafoos Jeff. (2005, January-February). Persistence of early emerging aberrant behavior in children with developmental disabilities. Research in Developmental Disabilities, 26(1), 47-55. Retrieved from http://www.sciencedirect.com.contentproxy.phoenix.edu/science/article/pii/S0891422204000952


Hart D, Mele-McCarthy J, Pasternack RH, Zimbrich K, Parker,DR. 2004. Community college: A pathway to success for youth with learning, cognitive, and intellectual disabilities in secondary settings. Education and Training in Developmental Disabilities 39(1):54-66.


Mazzucchelli, T. G., & Sanders, M. R. (2011, November-December). Preventing behavioral and emotional problems in children who have a developmental disability: A public health approach. Research in Developmental Disabilities, 32(6), 2148-2156. Retrieved from http://www.sciencedirect.com.contentproxy.phoenix.edu/science/article/pii/S0891422211002794


Pearl, Phil. "Mental Toughness - High Frustration Tolerance." Mental Toughness - High Frustration Tolerance. 1 June 2012. Web. 28 Sept. 2015.

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