Information for the public

Behaviour that challenges

Behaviour that challenges

Some people with autism may behave in a way that other people find challenging or difficult (for example, they may become very upset or aggressive). You should be assessed by a member of your autism team to see if this is a problem for you or other people.

A member of the autism team should develop a care plan that sets out the steps that should be taken to prevent behaviour that challenges. This might include treatment for physical or mental health problems, or agreeing with your family, teachers or carers about changes that might be needed at home or at school.

Psychological therapy

If your behaviour continues to cause problems for you and other people, and there is no obvious cause for it, you should be offered a psychological therapy to help to change the behaviour. You and your parents or carers should have a say in the choice of treatment you are offered. It should be clear how long the therapy will last and how it will be judged to have worked.


If psychological therapy does not help, or the behaviour is severe, you may be offered medication called 'antipsychotic medication'. This should only be offered by a paediatrician or psychiatrist who should talk to you about which medication suits you best and whether you have taken similar medication before. You should have a check-up after 3–4 weeks and the medication should be stopped after 6 weeks if it is not helping

Some care and management may not be suitable for you, depending on your exact circumstances. If you think that your care or management does not match this advice, talk to your autism team.

Questions about behaviour that challenges

  • What is causing me to behave like his? What could help me to behave in a different way?

  • What does this type of therapy involve and how long does it last?

  • How will this type of therapy help me?

If you are offered medication:

  • How long will I have to take the medication?

  • What are the possible side effects of taking this medication?

  • Might I have problems when I stop taking the medication?

  • Information Standard