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 provides a safer environment for participants while reducing 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!


Helping individuals with sensory impairments

Challenging behaviour scenario one

Creating a safe and functional home for families with an individual who has difficulty processing everyday sensory information is an important task. Bright lights, reflections from windows together with sharp sounds and confined spaces can overload an individual’s senses impacting their behaviour, development, lifestyle and social connection.
An SDA home can be modified based on the individual’s sensory needs to create a comfortable and peaceful home environment. When looking at home layout and finishings, you may want to consider an open floor plan, an in-home walking loop, the use of muted, matte and/or neutral colour palettes and finishes on surfaces including noise dampening carpet. Common customisations that can be very helpful are adding tinted window film, automatic shutters/blinds to control light levels (especially during mornings and afternoons when sunlight is angled into the home), soundproofing, and small ambient noise speaker systems that can emit white noise.


A very loud yet private individual that often gets frustrated indoors

Challenging behaviour scenario two

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

  1. building on land that doesn’t back onto a neighbouring property,
  2. perimeter landscaping to help dampen the noise, or
  3. 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 they are already asleep). Similarly, smart lighting can be programmed to gradually become brighter to wake the individual up, rather than being suddenly woken by a carer.  Modern intercontinental aircraft such as the Boeing 787 now incorporate these effects for managing passenger sleep.  The same effect could be achieved with sounds, such as incorporating their favourite sounds, like bird noises or music playlists.

An added benefit of this type of automation is that it can decrease unwanted stimulation and help to establish a routine for people who display challenging behaviours.


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