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Challenging Behaviour and Autism

Statistics

It is difficult to be precise about the number of people on the autism spectrum with challenging behaviours for a number of reasons including the fact that the number depends on which definition you are using.  However it is clear that challenging behaviours are more common in people on the autism spectrum than in ‘neurotypical’ people.  Different reviews have provided different estimates of the numbers. For example,

  • Matson et al (2009) reported that 94.3% of children on the autism  spectrum have been reported to display some form of CB
  • Matson et al (2011) reported that in a study of children with ASD, 13–30% were found to engage in severe CBs. In a clinical sample of adults with intellectual disability and co-morbid ASD, 87.9% were noted to engage in CBs.  

Some researchers report that challenging behaviours are more common in people on the autism spectrum with ‘severe’ autism and/or who also have learning disabilities. For example,

  • Hutchins and Prelock (2014) stated ‘Recent prevalence estimates of challenging behaviors in individuals with ASD/ID range from 35.8% to 64.3% with most studies reporting that more than half of these individuals engage in more than one challenging behavior.  Not surprisingly, the severity of challenging behaviors is related to both AS and ID severity and the rates for individuals with ASD and ASD/ID are substantially higher than individuals diagnosed with ID alone (i.e., 10-15%).’
Updated
02 Nov 2017