As all children grow up there are times when they show difficult
or inappropriate behaviour. Challenging behaviour is a term that is
used to describe particularly "difficult" or "problematic"
behaviour, which is experienced as challenging by parents and
others who care for and support these individuals. Challenging
behaviour is more common in individuals with learning
(intellectual) disability and autism spectrum conditions than in
those without; approximately ten percent of children with learning
disability exhibit severely challenging behaviour.
Those with physical, emotional, social and communication
difficulties may also show behaviour that is worrying, difficult or
challenging. A person's underlying medical and/or psychiatric
condition, age, social experiences, adverse life events and a range
of other factors can affect the type of behaviour.
Occasionally an underlying cause, for example genetic, may leave
the individual prone to challenging behaviours of varying intensity
Last updated July 2019 by Professor J Turk, Emeritus Professor
of Developmental Psychiatry, Institute of Psychiatry Psychology
& Neurosciences, King's College, University of London, and
Consultant Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist, Community Child and
Adolescent Mental Health Service, Isle of Wight NHS Trust.
Although great care has been taken in the compilation and
preparation of all entries to ensure accuracy, we cannot accept
responsibility for any errors or omissions. Any medical information
is provided is for education/information purposes and is not
designed to replace medical advice by a qualified medical