Psychology of Intellectual Disability & Autism


Online forum is up and running with the first thread focusing on Chemical Restraint.

Interest Group Online Forum: Chemical Restraint

Recent experiences in W.A. have indicated that there is an emerging perception by service providers that ‘chemical restraint’ is unacceptable when there is no psychiatric or other medical diagnosis.

In Disability Services Commission residential care facilities, there have been small but potentially increasing numbers of individuals with extremely complex presentations who are not responding to standard positive behaviour support interventions but do respond to some medications.  These complexities can include neurological, medical or dementia conditions which may not be amenable to clear diagnosis. Often these individuals are exhibiting high levels of distress or agitation which appear to require some relief in the form of medication to be provided to the person.

It may be timely to consider how the current general perception of ‘chemical restraint’ as excluding pharmacological therapeutic interventions or symptom relief can be considered and potentially addressed.

It is possible that some chemical restraints are actually treating underlying medical conditions rather than merely restraining the person, or at the very least providing some relief from behavioural agitation and thus could be viewed as treatment rather than restraint.

Contributions will be welcome from all service areas (e.g. residential, community, non-government).