Indiana University

Skip to:

  1. Search
  2. Breadcrumb Navigation
  3. Content
  4. Browse by Topic
  5. Services & Resources
  6. Additional Resources
  7. Multimedia News

Media Contacts

Joel Fosha
Indiana Institute on Disability and Community

Last modified: Tuesday, January 19, 2010

What to do when children communicate through challenging behaviors

New book by IU authors provides guidance for teachers and parents

Jan. 19, 2010

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Teachers, parents and caregivers who find themselves puzzled by persistently challenging behaviors of young children may find answers in a newly published book by two Indiana University authors.

Kim Davis and Susan Dixon, both of the Indiana Institute on Disability and Community, suggest that adults shift their perspective to consider the communication value of such behaviors. Their book, When Actions Speak Louder than Words: Understanding the Challenging Behaviors of Young Children and Students with Disabilities, has been published by Solution Tree Press of Bloomington.

The book provides information and tools to support all children whose primary way to communicate is through challenging behaviors. The authors address what behaviors children use to communicate, what kinds of messages they may be sending, and how adults can ask six critical questions to better understand and meet children's needs.

Susan Dixon

Susan Dixon

When Actions Speak Louder than Words results from years of making technical assistance calls, providing communication intervention, conducting presentations and workshops, and talking about and with individuals with challenging behaviors. The authors use accessible language to explain how central nervous system disabilities and hidden issues can affect a child's behavior and ability to communicate. They show how to create improved learning environments and offer proactive strategies to support more acceptable behavior alternatives.

The book provides enlightening and sometimes humorous examples of how children use behavior to communicate. Engaging exercises and end-of-chapter questions can be used by individuals or teams to examine and improve their current practices.

Davis is a research associate with the Indiana Resource Center on Autism and holds a master's degree in adapted physical education. Dixon, a project consultant with the IU Early Childhood Center, has a master's degree in speech language pathology.

Both the Indiana Resource Center on Autism and the Early Childhood Center are part of the Indiana Institute on Disability and Community at Indiana University Bloomington, which works with communities to welcome, value and support the meaningful participation of people of all ages and abilities through education, research and service. For more information, visit