Credit points: 15

Subject outline

The complex support needs of people with cognitive disabilities arise from interplay between multiple factors such as social disadvantage, poor physical and/or mental health, and impaired cognition and communication. Challenging behaviours are exhibited by many people with cognitive disability as a result of their complex support needs. Such behaviours often entail their exclusion from services or the imposition of restrictive practices. In this subject, students will explore behavioural and non-behavioural perspectives on understanding challenging behaviours, and both individual and systemic interventions to create change. Three principal research-based interventions are explored: Positive Behaviour Support, Attachment, and the creation of Psychologically-Informed Environments. Students will be encouraged to master each of these distinct approaches before making judgements about which is most appropriate for a person in a particular context.

SchoolAllied Health, Human Services & Sport

Credit points15

Subject Co-ordinatorSian Anderson

Available to Study Abroad/Exchange StudentsNo

Subject year levelYear Level 5 - Masters

Available as ElectiveNo

Learning ActivitiesN/A

Capstone subjectNo

Subject particulars

Subject rules



Incompatible subjectsDIS508

Equivalent subjectsN/A

Quota Management StrategyN/A

Quota-conditions or rulesN/A

Special conditionsN/A

Minimum credit point requirementN/A

Assumed knowledgeN/A

Learning resources

New Directions in the Treatment of Aggressive behaviour for Persons with Mental and Developmental Disabilities

Resource TypeBook

Resource RequirementRecommended

AuthorLiberman, R.P., & Lavinga, G.W.



PublisherNova Science Publishers: New York


Chapter/article titleN/A



Other descriptionN/A

Source locationN/A

Incorporating Attachment Theory into Practice: Clinical Practice Guideline for Clinical Psychologists working with People who have Intellectual Disabilities

Resource TypeBook

Resource RequirementPrescribed

AuthorSkelly, A., Fletcher, H.K., Flood, A., & Jones, L.



PublisherThe British Psychological Society


Chapter/article titleN/A



Other descriptionN/A

Source locationN/A

Attachment in Intellectual and Developmental Disability: A Clinician's Guide to Practice and Research

Resource TypeBook

Resource RequirementPrescribed

AuthorFletcher, H.K., Flood, A., & Hare, D.J.





Chapter/article titleN/A



Other descriptionN/A

Source locationN/A

Career Ready


Work-based learningNo

Self sourced or Uni sourcedN/A

Entire subject or partial subjectN/A

Total hours/days requiredN/A

Location of WBL activity (region)N/A

WBL addtional requirementsN/A

Graduate capabilities & intended learning outcomes

Graduate Capabilities

Intended Learning Outcomes

01. Critique the way in which 'complex and challenging needs' are understood within the context of disability practice.
02. Critically evaluate the evidence-base for the application of Positive Behaviour Support (PBS to the needs of individuals with cognitive disability.
03. Appraise the significance of different types of attachment in childhood, and how these are established, in order to understand the way adults approach relationships with others.
04. Critically evaluate the three different types of organised adult attachment and disorganized attachment to understand their relevance for care relationships between people with intellectual disabilities who are challenging, and parents and staff.
05. Critically appraise the concept of Psychologically-Informed Environments (PIE and Trauma-Informed Care.
06. Critically appraise and defend judgements about the contexts in which either positive behaviour support, attachment or the creation of Psychologically-Informed Environments (PIE are likely to be effective, separately or in combination.

Subject options

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Start date between: and    Key dates

Melbourne (Bundoora), 2021, Semester 2, Online


Online enrolmentYes

Maximum enrolment sizeN/A

Subject Instance Co-ordinatorSian Anderson

Class requirements

Scheduled Online ClassWeek: 30 - 42
Three 1.00 hour scheduled online class every three weeks on weekdays during the day from week 30 to week 42 and delivered via online.

Unscheduled Online ClassWeek: 30 - 42
One 10.00 hours unscheduled online class per week on any day including weekend during the day from week 30 to week 42 and delivered via online.


Assessment elementCommentsCategoryContributionHurdle% ILO*

Support Plan critique (2000 words equivalent).  Students to critique a plan and suggest recommendations to improve it.

N/AOtherIndividualNo40 SILO1, SILO2

Annotated bibliography (500 words equivalent).  Assessment will provide students with solid grounding in attachment through the review of published key works.

N/AOtherIndividualNo10 SILO3

Comparative essay (1500 words equivalent).  Essay requires students to compare environmental rather than individual interventions for challenging behaviour.

N/AOtherIndividualNo35 SILO4, SILO5

3 x 200-word online forum posts (600 word equivalent).  Students participate in moderated online forum (each worth 5%). These draw upon case scenarios provided.

N/AOtherIndividualNo15 SILO6