a1 University of Birmingham
Self-injurious behaviour in people with learning difficulties has been found to be a common and health-threatening problem. As a consequence, there is an expanding literature addressing a variety of methods of intervention that are either designed to facilitate or to enforce the reduction or extinction of such behaviour. It is not clear, however, the extent to which such interventions are successful in achieving their avowed goal. This paper critically reviews the treatment of self-injurious behaviour, including work which takes psychodynamic, psychopharmacological, developmental, self-stimulation or learned behaviour perspectives, in order to establish the current status of interventions in this area. It is concluded that no single treatment approach has been shown to be effective in facilitating a reduction in the self-injurious behaviour of all clients. Rather, individualized programmes of intervention need to be constructed, using careful causal and functional analyses of behaviour. Moreover, such programmes, which may be multi-modal in nature, need to aim for interventions that are minimally or non-aversive.
Reprint requests to Dr Alan Blair, School of Psychology, University of Birmingham, Edgbaston, Birmingham B15 2TT, UK.