What are challenging behaviours?

Challenging behaviours include those where there is a risk of harm to the NDIS participant and/or others (for example, to support workers, family members and friends). However, it’s important to understand that in some cases these behaviours can be a source of great comfort to the individual. Minimising or preventing the behaviour can therefore be a cause of great stress.

The design of SDA homes can help the SDA participants to continue with the behaviour while eliminating the risk of harm to themselves and others.

Clever and compliant SDA design can help to channel challenging behaviours to achieve better outcomes for everyone involved!

The design of Specialist Disability Accommodation (SDA) can play a role in helping people with challenging behaviours. The design of Specialist Disability Accommodation (SDA) can play a role in helping people with challenging behaviours.

3 examples where SDA design can be channelled to achieve better outcomes


An individual obsessed with climbing

Challenging behaviour scenario one

Climbing is a potentially dangerous activity for anyone, let alone an SDA recipient. However, it’s also a potentially healthy form of exercise and mental stimulation. An SDA home can be designed to incorporate safe indoor rock or lateral climbing spaces and cubby houses with soft, padded floors and mats to minimise the risk of injury.


A very loud yet private individual that often gets frustrated indoors

Challenging behaviour scenario two

This individual needs a private supervised space outdoors where he can calm down without disturbing neighbours with talking, which is often done at a yelling volume. Two SDA options to suit this individual are:

  1. building on land that doesn’t back onto a neighbouring property, or
  2. designing a U-shaped home with a central courtyard that the home is built around to minimise noise for the neighbours and maximise the outdoor privacy for the SDA recipient.


Light triggering sleep problems for an individual on the autism spectrum

Challenging behaviour scenario three

Designing an SDA home to incorporate smart lighting can be a way of facilitating more effective sleep. For example, lighting can be gradually dimmed so that the individual is not automatically plunged into darkness when a light switch is turned off (or woken up by a carer coming in to turn off the light if she is already asleep). Similarly, smart lighting can be programmed to gradually become brighter to wake the individual up, rather than him being suddenly woken up by a carer. The same effect could be done with sound, such as incorporating their favourite sounds, like bird noises or music playlists.

An added benefit of this type of automation is that it establishes the type of routine that can help people who display challenging behaviours.


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