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Intensive Interaction
Intensive Interaction

What is Intensive Interaction?

"Intensive Interaction is an approach to teaching the pre-speech fundamentals of communication to adults who have severe learning difficulties and/or autism and who are still at an early stage of communication development" www.intensiveinteraction.co.uk

So what does this mean? Well, some people with a learning disability may not understand speech or use speech. They may also have difficulty with social skills, so they might not use eye contact or take turns with others. They may behave passively - waiting for things to happen and not initiating; or they may be excessively active - as they don’t understand the rules of communication e.g. awaiting their turn. 
These behaviours tell us they are likely to be at an early stage of communication development.

Intensive Interaction is about encouraging communication skills and building better relationships with people. To achieve this, professionals supporting the individual adapt to the person's communication needs or personal style. The focus of change is not so much on the person with a learning disability but on the professional or family member who will learn how to interact more effectively with them.

How is Intensive Interaction used?

By progressively developing enjoyable and relaxed interaction sequences, where the practitioner is available for the person to communicate with, is responsive rather than directive and sensitively joins in with aspects of what the person is doing

By frequent repetition of interactions-these may develop in content, duration and sophistication over time

By using and developing the Fundamentals of Communication (see below)- the attainments that underpin and go on to develop speech and language

How is Intensive Interaction useful?

It can be done anywhere at anytime - from supermarket to bedtime- if the person is alert, relaxed and open to the interaction

It promotes engagement, inclusion and active participation

The evidence base shows increases in smiling, eye-contact, social initiation, socially significant physical contacts and vocalisations

The Fundamentals of Communication

Learning that people are fun to be with

Learning to give brief attention to another person

To share attention with another person

Learning to extend those attentions, learning to concentrate on another person

Developing shared attention into 'activities'

Taking turns in exchanges of behaviour

To have fun, to play

Using and understanding eye contacts

Using and understanding of facial expressions

Using and understanding of non-verbal communication such as gesture and body language

Learning use and understanding of physical contacts

Learning use and understanding of vocalisations, having your vocalisations become more varied and extensive, then gradually more precise and meaningful

Learning to control and regulate arousal levels

Where can I learn more about Intensive Interaction?

Have a look at the Intensive Interaction Institute Information about future day long courses in Intensive Interaction can be gained from us at OTC - ask about courses in your area.

Books:Nind, M. & Hewett, D. (2005). (2nd Ed). Access to Communication: developing the basics of communication in people with severe learning difficulties through intensive interaction. London: David Fulton.

Goldbart, J and Caton, S (2010). Communication and people with the most complex needs: what works and why this is essential. MENCAP


Video: The Intensive Interaction DVD

  • Intensive Interaction Coordinators & Associates explain how to do Intensive Interaction
  • 11 videos showing Intensive Interaction in child and adult services and at home
  • Why is Intensive Interaction so important?
  • The Fundamentals of Communication
  • Warm, enjoyable, crucial activities with people who have autism or severe, Profound and Multiple Learning Disabilities
  • Video footage recorded by practitioners and parents in real-life situations using camcorders
  • Produced by Dave Hewett and Graham Firth

    Video Editing: Dave Hewett

    Original music by Ray Stroud

    The disc price is 30 (including UK P and P)

    Click here to order

    An example of a young lady and her teacher doing Intensive Interaction can be found on YouTube. Please click here

    Facebook group: Intensive Interaction Users

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