Identifying and Treating Maladaptive Behavior

Maladaptive Behavior Autism: What Is It?

The term “maladaptive” refers to not being in harmony with one’s environment or situation. For instance, if your house is too hot and you are wearing too much clothing, then it would be considered adaptive behavior (or even healthy) to adjust yourself so that you don’t get burned. However, if you are constantly screaming at your parents because they do not provide you with enough food, then it might be considered maladaptive behavior.

On the other hand, maladaptive behavior could refer to any problem that is out of place or inappropriate. If someone repeatedly breaks into their home and steals all of their possessions, it may be considered a form of maladaptive behavior.

In some cases, maladaptive behavior is caused by a mental disorder such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. In others, it is due to a physical condition like diabetes or high blood pressure. Some people have no known cause for their maladaptive behaviors; however, there are certain factors that can increase the risk of developing them. These factors include alcohol and drug use, family history (such as a parent or sibling with the same maladaptive behavior), childhood abuse, brain damage, mental illness, or even extreme stress.

Many types of maladaptive behavior exist. A few of the more common types include attention-seeking behavior, obsessive-compulsive behavior, and risk-taking behavior.

Attention-Seeking Behavior

In the case of attention-seeking behavior, the person engages in an action or behavior specifically to gain the attention of others. This type of behavior is most common in young children who haven’t yet learned appropriate ways to get attention, such as asking for it. Because children often do not have a full understanding of cause and effect, they engage in what is known as over-imitation.

Sources & references used in this article:

Treating maladaptive interpersonal signatures. by NM Cain, AL Pincus – 2016 –

A validity study on the questions about behavioral function (QABF) scale: Predicting treatment success for self-injury, aggression, and stereotypies by JL Matson, JW Bamburg, KE Cherry… – Research in …, 1999 – Elsevier

Developmental differences in the nature of self-representations: Implications for the understanding, assessment, and treatment of maladaptive behavior by S Harter – Cognitive therapy and research, 1990 – Springer

Treatment of antisocial behavior in children: Current status and future directions. by AE Kazdin – Psychological bulletin, 1987 –