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“Lumos” foundation held a workshop for people working with children and young adults with challenging behavior. It took place in Sofia on the 23th and 24th of March 2017.

Leader of the workshop was Brian McDonald, a psychologist at Ability West, Northern Ireland.

 Ability West is an organization that provides high quality services and help to more than 500 children and adults with intellectual problems. Equilibrium was represented by the manager and the physiotherapist of the group homes for family-style accommodation for children and young adults with disabilities “Hope” and “Love” in Ruse. The purpose of the workshop was to discuss with the participants the different types of challenging behavior, the reasons that provoke it, how it reveals itself and the different types of methods which help deal with it.

At the beginning of the workshop Mr. McDonald made clear the fact that he calls it “a behavior that challenges”, not “troubling behavior”.

Challenging behavior is one of the hardest conditions for the professionals working with children and young adults with disabilities. According to research from 2016 by Lumos and the National Agency for Child Protection, about 30% of the children and young adults which are accommodated in family-style homes have challenging behavior. This is also a significant issue for the parents of children and young adults with special needs.

There is a need for very deep understanding of the way this behavior functions as well as the reasons that trigger it. This is the only way that we can prevent it instead of dealing with the consequences it creates.

During the workshop, Brian McDonald stressed the importance of understanding autism, the difficylties it creates for the individual as well as on the challenging behavior that is directly connected to them. The participants had the chance to talk about the difficulties in communicating with people on the autism spectrum. They also discussed the ways these difficulties turn into challenging behavior. There were suggestions to support people who are mute or have special communication needs. These were key factors for improving the use of all other methods and the increase of their efficiency.

The participation of the experts from Equilibrium allowed them to explain that they use a lot of the methods that were explained by Mr. Brian McDonald and these have contributed to a reduction in challenging behavior in the two small-group homes.. There was also the chance to talk about the current shortcomings in this method of caring for those with significant special needs  and to discuss how it can be improved in order to better the quality of life for the children and young adults in both houses.