Understanding Challenging Behavior for Pediatric Therapists

presented by Renee Watling

Accreditation Check:

This course will examine the challenging behaviors that occur in pediatric clients, give current statistics of challenging behavior in children and discuss the social implications of these behaviors. Challenging behavior will be defined and described as a foundation for further information including functional analysis of behavior. Behavior theory will be presented with detailed discussion of antecedents and consequences to the behavior. The content of this course will assist pediatric therapy practitioners in better defining and describing the challenging behaviors their clients demonstrate, the function of the behavior and the factors that maintain the behavior. These elements lay the foundation for the next course in this series that examines the clinical reasoning process that therapists use when planning intervention for challenging behaviors.

Meet Your Instructor

  • Renee Watling, PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA

    Dr. Watling has been a pediatric occupational therapist in Washington State since 1992. She has worked in clinic, school, and private practice settings; has lectured extensively at state, regional, and national conferences; and has published extensively on the topics of sensory processing, sensory-based occupational therapy intervention, and issues related to services for children with autism. She is the lead author of the AOTA Practice Guideline for Children and Adolescents with Challenges in Sensory Processing and Sensory Integration and the co-editor for Autism: A Comprehensive Occupational Therapy Approach. Dr. Watling received her BS and MS in occupational therapy from the School of Medicine at the University of Washington and her PhD from the College of Education at the University of Washington. Her research focuses on understanding the relationship between sensory processing and behavior, especially among children with autism spectrum disorders. She has served on various committees for the American Occupational Therapy Association, including holding the positions of Chairperson and Education/Research liaison for the Sensory Integration Special Interest Section and participating in the Autism Workgroup. She is a Fellow of the American Occupational Therapy Association and has been on select advisory panels for the organization. She is a past Clinical Assistant Professor at the University of Washington – Seattle and is now Visiting Clinical Assistant Professor at the University of Puget Sound, where she teaches in the entry-level Master’s program and post-professional doctoral program.

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Chapters & Learning Objectives

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  1. What is Challenging Behavior?

    1. What is Challenging Behavior?

    This chapter provides a foundation for understanding challenging behaviors and the effects they have for the child and those around the child. Concepts from behavior theory and occupational therapy theory are introduced.

  2. An Introduction to Behavior Theory

    2. An Introduction to Behavior Theory

    An introduction to behavior theory lays the foundation for developing operational definitions of behaviors, determining antecedents to behavior, and identifying consequences of behavior. These factors are critical for designing effective interventions for challenging behaviors.

  3. Functions of Challenging Behaviors

    3. Functions of Challenging Behaviors

    All behaviors serve a purpose. Understanding the purpose of a particular behavior is the first key in addressing the behavior. This chapter explores the three primary functions of behaviors and discusses how to determine the function of a particular behavior.