07 December 2023

Support behaviour and communication

Suggestion for implementing the strategy ‘Supporting language and communication skills’

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Behaviour as communi­cation

Behaviour as communi­cation

Behaviour is a form of communication.

Consider what learners might be trying to communicate through their behaviour.

I need:

  • more time
  • understanding
  • order
  • calm
  • peer or adult attention
  • a desired object or activity
  • sensory stimulation. 


I am finding this task or situation:

  • stressful
  • frustrating
  • difficult
  • boring or easy 
  • tiring.


I don't like:

  • this task
  • working with this person
  • working by myself.

Check for understanding

Check for understanding

Use this communication checklist (PDF, 304KB) to guide and inform understanding.

The following behaviours can be a sign that a student may be struggling to understand and use day-to-day language to access learning and have successful interactions:

  • sleepy or unmotivated
  • off task
  • non-compliant
  • rebellious
  • in their own world
  • not completing tasks
  • angry.

Notice learner needs

Notice learner needs

Speech, language, and communication needs can have an impact on a range of competencies.

Consider how these might influence and impact behaviour.

Articulation – ability to express oneself effectively through speaking, writing, or non-verbal communication. 

Perceptionthe ability to recognise and understand the spoken or written word, body language, and facial expressions. 

Listening skillsthe ability to listen carefully to what is said.

Recallbeing capable of remembering information that has previously been given.

Expressionbeing able to express themselves verbally and non-verbally effectively, including expressing feelings and emotions acceptably.

Interaction –  the capacity to relate to others in a socially acceptable manner.

Source: Speech, language, and communication difficulties: Young people in trouble with the law (opens in a new tab/window)

Check for hearing loss

Check for hearing loss

Hearing is critical to communication development.

Mild or fluctuating hearing loss can have a significant impact on learning and development.

A child or young person may have underlying speech, language, and communication needs (SLCN) if you observe the following indicators:

  • difficulty understanding and following instructions
  • difficulty explaining what they want and need
  • difficulty understanding and expressing their feelings and the emotions of others
  • appear to ignore what they have been asked to do or do the wrong thing because they have misunderstood what is meant
  • difficulties retelling situations, events and stories
  • frequently responding to questions with short generic responses such as "I dunno".

Use this communication checklist (PDF, 304KB) to guide and gather further observations.

Next steps

More suggestions for implementing the strategy “Supporting language and communication skills”:

Return to the guide “Behaviour and learning”

Guide to Index of the guide: Behaviour and learning

Strategies for action: