The Progression of Challenging Behavior in Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities: Frequency and Severity of Self-Injury, Stereotypy, and Aggression

Kristen Medeiros

Major Professor: Johannes Rojahn, PhD, Department of Psychology

Committee Members: Robert Pasnak, Timothy Curby

Psychological Clinic, #202D
April 11, 2013, 03:30 PM to 12:30 PM

Abstract:

Challenging behaviors, such as self-injury, stereotypy, and aggression, are common among individuals with intellectual or developmental disabilities (IDD). Research has found that risk factors for these challenging behaviors are IQ, gender, and certain diagnostic groups. However, research on structural models of challenging behavior progression is limited. This study was designed to test the relationship of each challenging behavior’s frequency and severity over one year for 160 infants and toddlers in Lima, Peru, whose parents were receiving a model supportive intervention. They were diagnosed as having Down Syndrome (DS), at-risk for Autism, or experiencing other developmental delays. Results showed that the frequency of SIB and stereotypy was stable over time; whereas the severity of aggression was more stable than its frequency. A uni-directional model fit the data best for individuals exhibiting SIB, with frequency serving as a leading indicator of future severity. A uni-directional model fit the data best for individuals exhibiting aggression, with severity serving as a leading indicator of future frequency. A fully cross-lagged autoregressive model fit the data best for individuals exhibiting stereotypy, with both frequency and severity involved. These models did not significantly vary across diagnoses, suggesting that, at this young age, interventions may be effective in targeting challenging behaviors, regardless of diagnostic categories.