Enhancing the wellbeing of people with severe intellectual disability and complex needs

Friday, 24th September 2021 Keynote Chris Oliver 04:00pm - 04:45pm Room: Humboldt

A substantial body of research has identified the importance of environmental influences on the behaviour and wellbeing of people with severe intellectual disability and complex needs. This research has generated the prevailing biological, psychological and social interventions that emphasise change in the environment and, by implication, a minimal role for individual difference in causal models of understanding behaviour and wellbeing.

A second line of research has demonstrated repeatedly the strong links between the cause of intellectual disability, behaviour and aspects of wellbeing. For example, genetic and individual differences are associated with the developmental trajectory, prevalence, and presentation of sleep problems, anxiety, self-injury, sensory sensitivity and social behaviour.

Importantly, influences on behaviours and wellbeing accumulate and interact in different ways across numerous specific genetic causes and can provide insight into the nature of complex needs across all people with severe intellectual disability. Recognising that both environment and individual differences and their interactions underpin behaviour and wellbeing can extend the targets for support, help focus environmental change, and enhance the likely effectiveness of interventions.

Simple and to the point:

  • The influence of environment on the behaviour and well-being of people with severe intellectual impairments is widely recognized.
  • There are strong links between the cause of the intellectual disability, the person's behaviour and their wellbeing that are equally important but often overlooked.
  • It is important that individual differences and their interaction with environmental causes are considered for creating supportive and effective interventions.