Often we define challenging behavior as specific behaviors. It might be slapping, kicking, thrashing, foul words or self harm. Most psychological and pedagogical methods concerning behavior of concern have been developed around the behavior in order to change it. Unfortunately it is difficult and takes time to change behavior in people with special needs if we focus on the behavior.
I define challenging behavior as behavior that creates a challenge for staff or parents. It isn’t the person with the behaviour who experiences a problem or a challenge, but the staff or parent. This way of thinking focuses on the staff’s feeling of security and on their methods, not the actual behavior. A behavior never emerges in a vacuum, all behavior emerges in the interaction between people.
This means that the easiest way of working with people with challenging behavior is to empower the staff or parents so that they can manage the behavior. If you can manage challenging behavior it is no longer challenging and you don´t affect the behavior of the person with developmental disabilities as much. This makes room for development and makes behavior change faster than if the focus had been on the actual behavior.