5. Meaning: What's It All About?

You now have a lot of information about the behaviour. Now it is time to start to look for the reasons why the person is displaying the behaviour. This is based upon the information you have collected from all of the previous steps. You are now in the middle section of the iceberg…under the water! It’s time to fill in the “WHY” section (see resource area on the right).


All human beings do things for a reason. Your aim is to try and make sense about what is happening from THE PERSON’S POINT OF VIEW. By trying to understand how the person sees, hears, smells and understands people and the world around them, we can try to work out the meaning or function of the behaviour. Think of all the reasons why the behaviour might be happening.


Think of all the underlying difficulties which might be contributing to the behaviour e.g. sensory differences, communication difficulties, slower thinking, the need for keeping things the same and/or lack of flexibility in learning new habits. It is also important to consider whether the behaviour gets some desired result for the person. For example,

  • Do they get a sensory or other type of reward?
  • Do they manage to avoid something (an activity, a demand or an unpleasant feeling)?
  • Do they get something to happen or some type of stimulation?
  • Do they get attention or reassurance?
  • Do they get to take charge (which reduces anxiety)?
  • Do they get to express their feelings or wants/desires?


So, now with all the information you have gathered "What are your ideas about WHY the behaviour is occurring?"

Remember to also think about the times and situations when the behaviour does not occur. This can also help to give you clues about what is happening and why.

You can find out more information about the sensory, communication and learning challenges that can be faced by people with global learning disabilities and/or autism in the resources area.





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