Project information

Cognitive and environmental intervention for temper outbursts in Prader-Willi syndrome

Funded by the Jerome Lejeune Foundation from 2009 – 2012


Some people with Prader-Willi syndrome (PWS) frequently show temper outbursts (‘temper tantrums’) that can cause particular problems for the children and adults who have the syndrome and their families. Our research has shown that these temper outbursts are likely to happen when unexpected changes occur in people’s surroundings (e.g. a change to a routine). These changes cause the brain to have to carry out a process called attention switching, which people with the syndrome find very difficult.


This project aims to implement and evaluate three possible intervention strategies for reducing temper outbursts in individuals with PWS caused by unexpected changes to routine or expectation


Participants taking part in this study are aged from 9 years old and upwards who have difficulty with change to routine or expectation that often results in a temper outburst.

Study one
Study one will examine whether the length of time for which a routine has been established is a critical factor in determining the degree of behavioural response to changes to that routine. The longer a routine has been established for the harder it might be for the individual when this routine is changed. This study is a preliminary investigation of this, assessing the potential of a possible early intervention strategy.

Study two
Study two will implement and evaluate a strategy for reducing temper outbursts caused by change to routine/expectation by making the changes less unexpected.

Study three
Study three will implement and evaluate a cognitive training programme focused around training attention switching. The development and impact of this upon behaviour will be assessed.

Progress to date

All participants have now been recruited for this project. We have conducted study one and are in the process of analysing results. Study two has started and some data have been collected but this is continuing. Study three is in preparation; materials are being put together ready to start collecting the information. 


Leah Bull
Tel: 0121 414 2855