Intellectual Disability: Research Paper

Intellectual Disability
Intellectual Disability

About 1 percent of the entire population has intellectual disability, which is a considerable disorder in adaptive as well as intellectual function in the early stages of development (Aveyard 2014). Individuals with the intellectual disabilities rate of developing mental illness are greater in comparison to the whole population, however, challenges in communication, access to services, literacy means that mental issues in persons with intellectual disability are inadequately recorded.

Moreover, the majority of persons with intellectual disability exhibit challenging behaviors, meaning characters of intensity, duration, and frequency that endangers their physical safety or those around them or even restricts accessing community services.

For a long period, there have been concerns that psychotropic medicine especially, antipsychotics are overused as such prescribed for problem behavior instead of diagnosing mental sickness, regardless of insufficient proof on their effectiveness. Nonetheless, getting an accurate amount of psychotropic in persons with learning disabilities is intricate, while present literature is limited due to varying descriptions.

In spite of inadequate proof from policy context, there is no detailed assessment of psychotropic in adults with learning disability in United Kingdom primary care conducted, while results from other nations cannot be generalised due to variations in health care provisions as well as practices (Guerzoni & Zuleeg 2011).                                     

Proof demonstrates that psychotropic use in entire population has been increasing tremendously for the past years, however, few studies have investigated that the patterns used to prescribe psychotropic among persons with intellectual disability. Regarding deinstitutionalization, creating warrens of psychotropic use, adverse effects and efforts to minimise its use to individuals with learning disability through the implementation of prescription standards are not clear. Furthermore, with the large as well as representative sample size, it is apparent that there are increased rates of mental illness, challenging behavior and psychotropic medicine among people with intellectual disability.

Research Question

  1. Do challenging behaviors among persons with learning disabilities result from mental impairments?
  2. Are social workers faced with challenges caring for persons with learning disabilities?

Research Objectives

  1. To establish whether or not challenging behaviors among persons with learning disabilities result from mental impairments
  2.  To understand some of the challenges that come with caring for persons with learning disabilities


  1. H0:       Challenging behaviors among persons with learning disabilities do not result from mental impairments
  2. H1:       Challenging behaviors among persons with learning disabilities do not result from mental impairments
  3. H0:       Social workers caring for persons with learning disabilities do not undergo challenges that wear them down
  4. H1:       Social workers caring for persons with learning disabilities undergo challenges that wear them down

What is challenging behavior?

An individual’s conduct may be regarded as challenging if it threatens their safety or those around, particularly care or even contributes poor life quality. In addition, such behaviors can influence their capacity to participate in routine activities. Challenging behaviors consist of self-harm, destructiveness and aggression among others. Communication determines the way in which people express their needs.

In the event that communication is problematic, it may extremely discourage individuals leading to challenging behavior. If such behavior contributes to desire results, it may be repeated over and over. Challenging behaviors are common in persons with problems that impact communication and the brain including learning disability, and dementia (Economist Intelligence Unit 2011).          

Challenging behavior or behaviors that challenge are culturally anomalous behaviors of frequency or duration that endangers their safety or others. In most cases, an individual must display trends that are a threat to services for a significant timeframe. Seriously challenging behaviors are not transient occurrences. According to the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), challenging behavior is a concept that is associated with aggression, stereotype, and agitation or self-harm, withdrawal, and sexual misconduct (NICE 2016).

Additionally, challenging behavior involves persons whose conduct present considerable challenges to services. This comprises of behaviors that are associated with mental health issues. Challenging behaviors are widely used among persons with learning or intellectual disability, in addition to those with autism. Nonetheless, there are other groups that can be regarded to have challenging behaviors such as those with dementia and serious mental issues.

Impact of challenging behavior

             Challenging behavior is described as ‘socially unacceptable behavior’, ‘bad behavior’ (Craver 2015). The term also reflects a challenge to those concerned. It indicates that something is not working well, and it needs to be rectified and stopped. Behavior is challenging if it causes harm to another individual, or prevents them from fulfilling certain things in their lives. Challenging behaviors are detrimental to the lives of the affected persons and those around them. Hence, dealing with challenging behaviors requires careful handling in a way that supports the safety and well-being of people and others

Aggression and assault

In a study conducted by 76 social care workers in institutions that provide intellectual disability services, three-quarter of respondents had faced aggression, self-harm, and disruptive behavior. Recent studies of employees working with persons with dementia discovered that roughly three-quarter of workers faced fearful events during their work (Springer et al. 2013). The most common reported cause was physical assault. Among the respondents sampled, a fifth said they had been injured, a quarter experienced fears during interaction, and half of the interviewees stated that they adopted a more personal centered style while others learned to be more vigilant.

This study gives indications of nature and level challenging behavior experienced by staff in care homes for people with dementia.  Recent studies of perception of severe behavior and fear of assault showed that the degree of fear was greater when staff was exposed to challenging behavior. Researchers, however, found unclear evidence for the relationship between the quantity of challenging behavior and the level of fear of assault. 


Emerson, E. 2011, Challenging behaviors. Available from            inkCode=as2&redirect=true&ref_=as_li_ss_tl&tag=mentalhealt08 [25th May 2016].

Guerzoni B. and Zuleeg F. 2011, Working away at the cost of aging. Brussels: European Policy Centre. Available from: pdf ,[25th May 2016].

Hayes, S. A., & Watson, S. L. 2013. The impact of parenting stress: A meta-analysis of studies comparing the experience of parenting stress in parents of children with and without autism spectrum disorder. Journal of autism and developmental disorders, 43(3), 629-642.

Mental health center 2016, Oppositional defiant disorder. Available from [25th May 2016].

National Center for Learning Disabilities. 2012, What are learning disabilities? Available from [25th May 2016].

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