What drives children’s behaviors?

Exploring the ‘Deep Why’

by Adina Levy

Behaviour. What a loaded word. It’s so important to remember that this is just a neutral word to describe any action that someone does. But often we think about ‘negative’ ‘tricky’ or ‘challenging’ behaviours. Supporting behaviour is such a big question and when you multiply this out with the ideas of Neurodiversity Affirming support, it can get pretty confusing to know what to do! I aim to help!

Let’s start by thinking back to a recent ‘tricky’ or surprising behaviour that your child, student or client did. I wonder which of the ‘Deep Whys’ below might have contributed to it? Can you think of anything else?

Just some of the ‘Deep Why’s behind a child’s behaviours


  • needing connection (this is fine!)
  • sensory need or dysregulation
  • difficulty sensing internal feelings (interoception)
  • uncertainty about what’s happening or expected
  • task is too hard
  • difficulty expressing their needs, wants or emotions
  • a combination of the above (most of the time this is true!)

So what next? When you know the ‘Deep Why’, you can then step back from the situation, and work out a long-term way to support your client, student or child. Start by addressing the ‘Deep Why’ and you’ll go a lot further than addressing the apparent immediate ‘triggers.

    Speech Therapists! Want to learn more about with me?

    💻 Check out my webinar ‘Affirming Approach to Understanding & Supporting Behaviour‘ to learn practical ideas for supporting autistic clients in Neurodiversity Affirming ways.

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