DDWA believe that people with disability who behave in challenging ways, are trying to communicate to the people around them that their needs are not being met and that their behaviour is trying to tell us that something in their world is not right.


People with intellectual and other developmental disabilities can sometimes be labelled as having "challenging behaviour". We recognise that it can be really hard to work out what is underlying in a person’s behaviour (e.g. pain, sensory overload, boredom) and to change what is causing the distress, frustration, anger etc.

When people view challenging behaviour as a form of communication, they are less likely to see the person with disability as ‘being naughty’ and more likely to focus on what they themselves might be doing or not doing to meet the person’s real needs eg. such as supporting the person to communicate their needs.

The information below is designed to help understand and better respond to people who can sometimes behave in challenging ways.

Resource Library

What is your child's challenging behaviour trying to tell you?

I Am Trying to Tell You Something!

Supporting School-age Children with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder

Online Education

Foundations to understanding behaviour

This free learning package of five video modules was developed to help you enhance your knowledge and skills around supporting people with disability and complex communication needs.



Side by Side

Side by Side began as a project in 2012, for families experiencing behaviour which could be seen as challenging. The project connects families experiencing challenging behaviour with other families though a supported peer group which provides a safe place to share experiences, receive support and help each other.

Side by Side’s vision is for families experiencing challenging behaviour to be better supported and to develop family leaders. This peer support is vital as these families are often isolated and overwhelmed. Side by Side can work with families and support them to develop their own capacity and build the strength of the Side by Side peer group collectively.

Further Reading

Pain - A Guide for Parents