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Managing the behaviour of the person with an intellectual disability

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How do you prevent or manage certain behaviours?

Here are ten tips to help you manage the behaviours of your care receiver with an intellectual disability.

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Behavioural issues

People with intellectual disabilities are five times more likely to develop behavioural issues.

Behavioural issues arise from both the internal condition of the person and their environment, they appear in succession. There is no single significance to a behaviour.

Behavioural disorders refer to heterogeneous realities and can be of all types:

  • Display of emotions;
  • Contradictory behaviour;
  • Difficulty in school;
  • Avoidance, or conversely, doing everything possible to obtain something;
  • Denial, silence;
  • Serious behavioural issues (endangerment of self or others);
  • Disorganized or insecure attachment.

Generally speaking, the person always behaves in a certain way with a specific goal: for example, to get attention, to acquire something, to avoid doing a certain task or meeting a certain person. It is often the manifestation of an unsatisfied need.

Take stock of your car receiver’s needs and your own

From a medical standpoint, it is important to try to understand the causes and purposes of these behaviours through an assessment:

  • Contact the ID-PD-ASD access point in your area and ask about the Québec government’s Agir tôt program;
  • If you have concerns about your child’s development, consult a professional; early diagnosis is important;
  • The Office des personnes handicapées du Québec offers personalized assistance to people with disabilities, their families and their care receivers at all stages of their access to services.

A positive approach

The sensory exploration guide identifies the following intervention strategies:

  • Develop positive interactions, including assessing the person’s understanding of the message;
  • Encourage experimentation with new and varied situations;
  • Help the person to make choices;
  • Provide opportunities for the person to develop interpersonal relationships;
  • Help the person understand that they are important to us;
  • Support the person rather than trying to manage them;
  • Introduce preventive measures to the person.

Ten tips for dealing with your care receiver’s behaviour

These disabilities have an impact on the quality of life of people and their families, hence the need for caregivers to understand and address them:

  1. Manage behaviours with the person you are caring for. Learn together;
  2. Adapt the environment to make it as safe as possible;
  3. Encourage the person whenever they demonstrate appropriate behaviour;
  4. Learn methods to manage emotions, thoughts and behaviours;
  5. Think about each other’s wellness and quality of life;
  6. Develop strategies together: when this happens, do this;
  7. Break down the primary behavioural goal into smaller, secondary goals that the person must achieve before the primary goal can be met;
  8. Explain your limitations to the person you are caring for;
  9. Have a conversation about understanding and respect;
  10. Think about the vocabulary surrounding intellectual disabilities and even create your own! We have put together a mini lexicon for you.

Questions and possible solutions

What might be some avenues of resolution for certain behaviours?

Because of the diversity of cases and the socioeconomic conditions that surround each person, there is no simple answer or single answer to this question. We can advocate for the prevention of these behaviours by observing what causes them: what need is not being met?

From management to insertion

We aim for the person’s well-being, and by extension, your well-being as a caregiver. This means working together on aspects of communication, encouraging involvement in society through work, insertion in activities and learning to manage one’s behaviours.

But what about my own behaviour?

As a caregiver, the help and support you provide to the person you care for is a mutual exchange and learning process. If the person you are caring for (or your child) is learning to manage their behaviour, so are you: you are learning from and with your care receiver. You can also broaden your knowledge and experience and get in touch with resources and services tailored to your needs.

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Mini glossary

In 2019, the press was still using “suffering,” “deficient,” “affected by…” Whattha …&?$%@!

The heartfelt cry of actress Gabrielle Marion-Rivard is there to remind us: for a subject such as intellectual disability, the choice of vocabulary and words takes on great importance and says a lot about the way Québec society perceives intellectual disability, especially when it comes to behaviours.

  • Excessive, as in “excessive behaviours”;
  • Problematic, as in “problematic behaviours”;
  • Delayed, as in “overall developmental delay.” It should be remembered that, particularly in the United States, some publications still use the term Mental Retardation;
  • Handicap, as in “intellectual handicap.” This focuses on the impairments;
  • Disorder, as in “intellectual development disorder” or “behavioural disorder” or “attachment disorder,” brings us back to our societal perception of behaviour;
  • Manage, as in “manage behaviours”: what does this word refer to? What does it say about society’s capacity to accommodate these behaviours?
  • Incapacity: when a person reaches the age of majority, they are either “capable” or “incapable” of taking care of themselves and their property. Fortunately, the Curateur public du Québec takes a different route and uses a different vocabulary;
  • Race, marathon, rally, obstacle course: this is the vocabulary associated with the daily challenges faced by parents and caregivers. So, when can we take a break?
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