Staff Training

Many children with deafblindness have "challenging" behaviours. At Children’s House, some of the deafblind children persistently engaged in:

  • biting or scratching their own bodies
  • tearing clothes
  • destroying objects
  • acting aggressively toward other children and adults
  • screaming for prolonged periods of time
  • behaving “noncompliantly” (e.g. refusing to get out of bed or leave their room when asked)

Reasons for these behaviours were often unclear. To better understand the cause of problem behaviours, it was necessary to observe:

  • how often a target behaviour occurred during the day/night
  • the circumstances in which the behaviour was manifested
  • the people who were present when the behaviour occurred

All of these aspects were carefully recorded and analysed, in order to discover the origin of a behaviour. This kind of study is called functional analysis. It requires good observation and documentation of a person’s problem behaviours. Video recordings are often very helpful in the analysis process. In the following clip, Artyem screams when he is asked to wave the ribbons. Staff members at Children's House analysed this behaviour.

Click on a picture to play video clip.

- Click on a picture to play video clip -

A protocol was developed with Children’s House staff, detailing what to do if a child exhibits challenging behaviours.

First, information is collected on the child and his behaviour by:

  • studying the child’s (medical) history
  • interviewing parents and teachers

One of the problem behaviours (the "target behaviour") is then singled out:

  • the behaviour’s occurrence is recorded for a specified period of time, and the data are represented on a frequency table (This is the baseline.)
  • preferably, 2 or more people independently analyse the baseline data and video recordings, and rate the behaviour using the Motivation Assessment Scale (Durand and Crimmins)

The acquired data give researchers insights about the:

  • Antecedent – what happens before the child demonstrates the undesirable behaviour
  • Behaviour – how the behaviour is manifested
  • Consequence – what happens after the child demonstrates the undesirable behaviour

This process is called ABC analysis. It is followed by a hypothesis about a possible cause of the behaviour (e.g. lack of adequate communication, boredom, too many demands, satisfying a physical need, etc.).

A hypothesis focusing on intervention is then introduced, to decrease the target behaviour (e.g. better communication, providing appropriate toys, giving the child the initiative instead of forcing him to comply, giving the child access to a drink, etc.). It is essential that all people involved in the intervention agree with the hypothesis.

Next, an intervention strategy is chosen and applied. The number of times the child demonstrates the undesirable behaviour during the intervention stage is counted. If the behaviour has decreased significantly from the baseline, the intervention hypothesis is accepted. If not, another strategy is tried.

A detailed description of this procedure can be found in van Dijk, J. & de Kort, A. (2005), Reducing challenging behaviors and fostering efficient learning of children with CHARGE syndrome, published in the Journal of Medical Genetics. You can download the full text, including the references, from this website, by clicking here. It can also be found at:

After intensive training, Children’s House staff began to apply this method of changing behaviour. 5 children with challenging behaviours were treated according to the above protocol. The results have been published on a CD called From Russia with love and care for children with multiple disabilities and challenging behaviour. This CD includes an interactive course, with video clips, demonstrating the most important principles of Positive Behaviour Support.

Visit our webshop for information about obtaining the CD From Russia with Love for Children with Sensory Impairment.

This CD can be ordered in both English and Russian.

Из России с Любовью и Заботой о детях с сенсорными нарушениями и вызывающим поведением

For more Russian information, please send your e-mail to Children’s House at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


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