Project Details

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Professor Caroline Richards

Project area or title

Feasibility of preventive intervention programme for individuals under 5 at Clinical High Risk for Behaviours that Challenge


Challenging behaviours are shown by approximately 10% of children with intellectual disability (ID) and both prevalence and severity increase with age in childhood. Severe challenging behaviours, such as self-injury, aggression, and destruction of property, are persistent and associated with lower quality of life, psychiatric hospitalisation, and reactive physical intervention. As well as deleterious outcomes for the child, severe challenging behaviours are predictive of higher parental depression and stress, which in turn can cause a negative impact on the parent– child relationship. Thus, early intervention targeted to children at highest risk for challenging behaviour is essential and provides one, currently under-resourced avenue to improve parent-child relationships and developmental outcomes in vulnerable children. Evidence-based challenging behaviour interventions are typically implemented once behaviour has emerged (e.g., positive behaviour support). Such interventions are not used proactively as they are predicated on an understanding of the establishing operations and consequences around the challenging behaviour itself. Therefore, novel approaches to early intervention are required. In this project, the successful student will co-develop and pilot a psycho-education programme, derived from evidence-based applied behaviour analysis which can be delivered as a proactive, preventative intervention before challenging behaviour emerges. By implementing early intervention, we hope to improve parent efficacy and wellbeing, reduce neurodevelopmental pathway referrals, and prevent negative outcomes such as hospitalisation, in turn significantly reducing NHS burden. The project will utilise co-design and RCT methodologies.


Children, Young People & Perinatal Mental Health


University of Birmingham

Specific Project Eligibility