Workshop: Addressing severe behaviour in individuals with autism spectrum disorder

This workshop will provide practical, evidence-based strategies for identifying the function
 of an individual’s problem behaviour and methods for determining and implementing
effective strategies in your intervention sessions.

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Understanding severe behaviour

Learning Objectives

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Severe behaviours such as aggression, self-injury, property destruction, pica, and elopement are common among young people with autism. The term “severe behaviours” is generally used to refer to behaviours that can result in injury to self or others, or that can significantly impair functioning. 

Up to 53% of individuals with ASD engage in some form of problem behaviour such as aggression, self-injury, or property destruction, with 5–10% engaging in one or more behaviours. These severe behaviours present a significant risk for people with ASD, their carers and their family, impacting their physical, emotional, and social well-being and overall quality of life.

Research suggests that the presence of severe behaviours is a major stressor for people with a disability and their family, and these behaviours are often cited as the primary reason for referral to intervention services. 

About the interventions

A range of therapeutic interventions designed to address problem behaviour associated with ASD have been and are being developed. Research shows that interventions are more likely to succeed when the therapist understands the cause of the problem behaviour. Understanding ‘why’ the client is behaving in a certain way is key to formulating a successful intervention.

Contemporary behavioural interventions use a range of behavioural procedures based on the results of functional behavioural assessment, which is designed to identify the reason for the behaviours and reinforce consequences for the problem behaviour. Interventions based on the results of a functional analysis are more proactive, because they aim to prevent the reoccurrence of problem behaviours, and place more emphasis on targeted adaptive skills including communication, social, and leisure skills.

Research shows that interventions which are preceded by a functional analysis reduce problem behaviour significantly more than interventions not preceded by such an analysis. This highlights the importance of these interventions being delivered by a team of clinicians with strong background in behaviour analysis.

Basic concepts of behaviour

Data collection

Functions of behaviours

Treatment options and common interventions

Safety considerations and precautions

After the workshop, you can expect to:

- identify severe behaviours

- be familiar with the most common safety considerations and precautions

- understand the need for a language development plan

- collect reliable behavioural data

- have an understanding of the basic principles of behavioural therapy

- implement basic prevention and de-escalation strategies for challenging behaviours

You’ll gain access to an evidence-based best practice model to reducing severe behaviours in people with ASD.

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Gain access to an evidence-based best practice model to reducing severe behaviours in people with ASD

For any questions please call 03 9720 1118 or email