Children with multiple disabilities present complex management problems, both for their families and for the professionals involved in their care. For any one child, the list of functional and medical problems that need to be addressed is frequently reflected in an even longer list of involved professionals, leading to conflicting advice and problems in co-ordination of care. A hierarchical model for assessment and management is proposed, which highlights the interdependency of apparently different areas of functioning. The model aims to assist both parents and professionals in determining priorities, to improve interdisciplinary working, and to underpin staff training. Illustrative case studies indicate the importance of resolving issues in areas such as visual functioning, positioning and nutrition before integrated functions such as communication skills can be addressed successfully.