Prevalence of Challenging Behaviors Exhibited by Children with Disabilities: Mapping the Literature

David Simó-Pinatella, Cristina Mumbardó-Adam, Elisabeth Alomar-Kurz, George Sugai, Brandi Simonsen

Research output: Indexed journal article Articlepeer-review

35 Citations (Scopus)


Prevalence studies of challenging behaviors among children with disabilities have a potential value, as they provide information for intervention and evaluation. However, the results from these studies seem to vary according to the population involved, the behaviors explored and the selected methodological procedures and instruments used. The purpose of this study was to identify the prevalence data of challenging behaviors considering the behaviors assessed, how the behavior is measured and which procedures are used to collect the prevalence of these behaviors among school-aged participants with disabilities. We performed a systematic review and selected 20 studies for analysis according to their methodological characteristics. The findings indicated that the most common behaviors studied were aggression and self-injury. Moreover, a wide disparity with respect to procedures and methods (e.g., sampling methods and instruments) to assess the prevalence of challenging behavior was identified. Recommendations for addressing these issues are presented, and implications and suggestions for future research are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)323-343
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Behavioral Education
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2019


  • Challenging behavior
  • Children with disabilities
  • Methodological procedures
  • Prevalence
  • Systematic review


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