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					13 June 2007

  EARLY PREVENTION KEY TO MANAGING DIFFICULT BEHAVIOURS OF
          CHILDREN WITH AN INTELLECTUAL DISABILITY

New research released at a Parenting Research Centre forum today confirms that
prevention is the key to managing difficult behaviours associated with children with
an intellectual disability.

The research is based on the Victoria-wide rollout of the Signposts program, a $4m
Commonwealth and Victorian government-funded initiative which helped 2600 families access
Signposts, a preventative program for families of children 3-16 with a developmental delay or
intellectual disability. Among the key findings:

        •    84% of parents were more confident about managing children’s behaviour.
        •    91% of parents found the program very helpful in managing children’s behaviour.
        •    Significant improvements in children’s disruptive behaviour, compliance with
             requests and aggressive activities.
        •    Significant reductions in levels of depression, anxiety and stress in parents.
        •    Substantial increases in parenting confidence and satisfaction.
        •    Successful outcomes were also experienced by children who, in addition to an
             intellectual disability, have an associated condition such as autism, Down
             syndrome, epilepsy, cerebral palsy, or acquired brain injury.

The Hon. Gavin Jennings, Minister for Community Services and Aboriginal Affairs, opened the
forum in Melbourne. “The encouraging findings of this research are fantastic. Signposts has
made a real and tangible difference to more than 2600 families with children who have
challenging behaviours. It is important to continue supporting families who face these issues
and the Victorian Government will use today’s research to shape our programs.”

Emeritus Professor Alan Hudson of RMIT University and Associate Professor Neville King of
Monash University presented keynotes. Professor Alan Hudson said, “This research supports the
view that a preventative approach can have significant outcomes in reducing difficult behaviours
associated with children with an intellectual disability. With early support, families are better
able to prevent and manage difficult behaviours. This research also provides good evidence of
the program’s effectiveness when used in the general service system. Busy professionals with
heavy caseloads in schools, community health, special parenting services and disability services
have successfully and effectively used this program with families.”

Mother of two, Mandy Coronica, in Mildura says, “The results have been phenomenal for us on
so many levels. One of the big things in our world is that I’m going blind and have to catch
taxis instead of driving. Every time our taxi would stop, my son Harry would open the door and
run out of my visual range. The strategy we developed through Signposts was so simple and so
positive. Now he pays the driver. It makes him feel special and engages him in the taxi until we
are all ready to get out. We set ourselves up for success every day.”

Warren Cann, Executive Director of the Parenting Research Centre says, “Research shows that
this approach works for a range of behavioural challenges, from typical issues of disobedience
through to aggressive behaviours. Families have told us that they can now do everyday
activities, like taking a child to the supermarket or going camping, that they would never have
felt able to do before the program.”

Regional Coordinators located in Geelong, Warrnambool, Box Hill, Warragul, Ballarat, Shepparton,
Wodonga, Mildura, Bendigo, Epping, Cranbourne and Footscray worked with families and professionals to
roll out this phase of Signposts, including training an additional 500 professionals around Victoria.

Media queries: Sandy Watson, Manager Communications, swatson@parentingrc.org.au or 0427 027 059.

				
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