Prevalence, phenomenology, aetiology and predictors of challenging behaviour in Smith-Magenis syndrome

J Sloneem, Christopher Oliver, O Udwin, Kate Woodcock

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Background The prevalence, phenomenology aetiology and correlates of four forms of challenging behaviour in 32 children and adults with Smith-Magenis syndrome (SMS) were investigated. Methods Cognitive assessments, questionnaires and semi-structured interviews were used to gather data on intellectual disability, verbal and physical aggression, destructive behaviour and self-injury and on characteristics known to be associated with aggression. Results Aggression in SMS was more prevalent (87%), but not more severe than aggression in contrast groups. Aggressive behaviour was more frequently associated with environmental contingencies (e.g. attention, escape and access to tangibles) than self-injury and destructive behaviours. Severity of challenging behaviours was associated with high impulsivity. Conclusion Aggression is seen in the majority of people with SMS. Results suggest that behavioural disinhibition and operant social reinforcement are associated with the manifestation of aggression.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)138-151
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Intellectual Disability Research
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2011


  • aggressive behaviour
  • behavioural phenotype
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder
  • ADHD
  • self-injurious behaviour
  • Smith-Magenis syndrome


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