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Can sensory integration have a role in multi‐element behavioural intervention? An evaluation of factors associated with the management of challenging behaviour in community adult learning disability services

McGill, Ciara; Breen, Cathal J.


Ciara McGill


1.1 Introduction
Adults with complex needs and severe learning disability present as a serious management problem within the community. Restrictive interventions are often used to manage adults with these issues, even though best practice recommends the use of positive behaviour support. Positive behaviour support involves functional analysis, but it does not specifically focus on sensory integration difficulties as a contributing factor to challenging behaviour.

1.2 Methods
A systematic search of the literature was completed using a range of electronic databases, an electronic search, hand search and review of reference lists. Seven relevant studies were identified. These studies were critically appraised and analysed. However, the extent of research was limited and the procedural quality variable, some distinct themes, arose.

1.3 Results
Out of the seven intervention studies included in this review, two studies used sensory integration therapy, three employed multi-element behavioural intervention, one utilised environmental stimulation within a multifactor behavioural intervention approach and one used sensory strategies within a structured behavioural intervention programme. The participants across the final seven papers reviewed consisted mainly of males with a high incidence of participants presenting with ASD. A range of assessment tools and outcome measures were used.

1.4 Conclusions
The use of restrictive intervention is still an issue in practice. Nearly all the studies reviewed stressed the issue of placing individuals with severe challenging behaviour in the community. Behavioural studies have successfully utilised sensory integration strategies within a structured behavioural format to manage challenging behaviour in a community setting for adults with a learning disability.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Dec 15, 2019
Online Publication Date Jan 29, 2020
Publication Date 2020-06
Deposit Date Nov 3, 2022
Journal British Journal of Learning Disabilities
Print ISSN 1354-4187
Electronic ISSN 1468-3156
Publisher Wiley
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 48
Issue 2
Pages 142-153
Keywords autism, challenging behaviour, community care, learning (intellectual) disabilities
Public URL
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