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S32 Step By Step Guide

Challenging behaviour

Some people with intellectual disability may have developed entrenched problematic behavioural patterns over time, for example calling emergency services when they are anxious or bored. Other people may self-harm or become aggressive.

People with intellectual disability who have developed challenging behaviour may need a great deal of assistance, often specialist assistance, to analyse the cause of the behaviour and assist them to change that behaviour. The behaviour patterns may be fundamental to their way of coping and are unlikely to be resolved quickly. However, over time and with planning, adequate support, persistence and patience, the problem behaviour will usually reduce in frequency and intensity and eventually may become a rare occurrence or cease altogether. Progress may seem slow but this is the norm and it is important not to give up when further incidents occur. Further incidents do not mean that the section 32 order has been a failure or that section 32 should be ruled out in the future.

When people with intellectual disability have access to effective services, support and, for some, specialist behaviour intervention assistance, their challenging behaviour may never come to the attention of the police. For those who do not have this access, challenging behaviour is more likely to lead to contact with the criminal justice system.

Socially or sexually inappropriate behaviour

As a result of their difficulties with learning and understanding, often compounded by restricted life experience, people with intellectual disability may not have learnt or understood legal restrictions, social expectations or rules about acceptable and unacceptable behaviour. They may behave in ways that appear threatening or are socially or sexually inappropriate. They may be unaware that their behaviour is unacceptable. Behaviour that was accepted and uncorrected in the child with intellectual disability may be unacceptable in an adult. Usually people are able to amend such behaviour with the assistance of counselling and training.

Additional reading - IDRS case study Sexually Inappropriate Behaviour

Identifying intellectual disabilityIntellectual disability and mental illness

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