Communication Disorders and Challenging Behaviors: Supporting Children’s Functional Communication Goals in the Classroom


Children with communication disorders may express frustrations through challenging behaviors such as aggressive behaviors and social withdrawal. Challenging behaviors may lead to difficulties with building social competencies including emotional regulation and peer engagement. Individualized planning of functional goals for children with communication disorders provides support for social communication to increase quality classroom interactions. Teachers, families and service providers can work together to assess the purpose of the child’s behaviors in order to create more functional ways for the child to communicate as the spoken language continues to improve. This article focuses on strategies including considerations for collaboration in initial planning, communication modifications, and peer supports.

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  1. 1.

    Jacob is a pseudonym.

  2. 2.

    Olivia's family preferred her real name be used in any written materials.


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Correspondence to Katy Gregg.

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Gregg, K. Communication Disorders and Challenging Behaviors: Supporting Children’s Functional Communication Goals in the Classroom. Early Childhood Educ J 45, 445–452 (2017).

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  • Challenging behaviors
  • Communication disorders
  • Functional goals
  • Social emotional development