Challenging Behaviours

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What is a challenging behaviour?
Challenging behaviour is term used to describe behaviour that interferes with an individual’s or carer’s daily life. Common examples of challenging behaviour are aggression, self-injurious behaviour, property destruction, oppositional behaviour, stereotyped behaviours, socially inappropriate behaviour, withdrawn behaviour and self-destructive behaviour. The term ‘challenging behaviour’ is used as a way to label the behaviours as challenging, rather than label the person as the problem. Challenging behaviour affects many people in the community, and is not an inevitable result of developmental disability. The development of challenging behaviour is less likely when people with a developmental disability are taught pro-social behaviour from an early age and are provided with environments that eliminate the necessity to behave in problematic ways.

Challenging behaviour may seriously affect a person’s health and quality of life. Some examples are listed here.
* Self-injurious behaviour (including ingestion or inhalation of foreign bodies) can result in blindness, bowel perforation, infection, haemorrhaging, brain damage and even death. * Oppositional behaviour may result in dietary deficiencies, weight loss, gross obesity and heart failure. * Accidental injury is a common medical problem in people with aggressive behaviour. * Lack of social skills can lead to loneliness and depression. One example of a challenging behaviour is an Eating Disorder

What is an Eating Disorder?
An eating disorder is a dangerous mental illness, not a lifestyle choice, a diet gone wrong or a fad.  An eating disorder is characterized when eating, exercise and body weight/shape become an unhealthy pre-occupation of someone's life.

There are a variety of eating disorders that can affect a person, with different characteristics and causes. However in general, eating disorder cases can be linked to low self esteem and an attempt to deal with underlying psychological issues through practicing an unhealthy relationship with food.

A common misconception regarding eating disorders is that they are a fad, a diet gone wrong, or an attention-seeking attempt. This could not be further from the truth as eating disorders are serious, and in some cases fatal, mental illnesses which often require psychological and physical intervention to promote recovery.  It is not uncommon for a person to progress from one eating disorder to another, for example somebody with Anorexia Nervosa may later develop Bulimia Nervosa or Binge Eating Disorder, and vice versa. Eating Disorders is an indirect form of a self destructive behaviour.

What causes eating disorders?

"Why don't you just stop?" This is the question with which people with eating disorders are confronted again and again by parents, spouses, friends, and themselves. Costly experiences with programs promising an end to the food behaviours once and for all frequently lead to brief abstinence followed by devastating resumption of old and familiar patterns. Regardless of whether the person starves, binges, binges and purges, abuses laxatives, compulsively overeats, gains weight, or loses weight the story of a roller coaster experience with behaviour changes is all too common. Until the behaviours in an eating disorder are viewed as the symptoms rather than the problem the focus of recovery remains in the wrong place, and the person is likely to experience limited success in attempts to recover.

Most people have great difficulty understanding the function of the behaviours in an eating disorder. Why would someone starve themselves to the point of death, as often happens in anorexia nervosa? Why would someone binge and then induce vomiting or painful diarrhoea, as happens in bulimia nervosa? Why would someone eat so much that there stomach hurts so badly that all they can do is lay down and fall asleep, as often happens for compulsive overeaters?...
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