As we focus on Intensive Interaction this week, we look in detail of what this approach involves and how to know that it is working.
What is Intensive Interaction?
Intensive Interaction is a way of teaching early communication and interaction skills to people who do not find it easy communicating or being social.
It was developed by Dave Hewitt PhD and Melanie Nind PhD in the 1980s. It aims to teach the basic Fundamentals of Communication as well as help develop social ability, cognitive abilities and emotional wellbeing.
This early learning of the fundamentals of communication seems to be essential to subsequent learning: if you don’t learn the fundamentals of communication it is difficult to learn anything else.
Communication and wellbeing
Learning to be social is crucial to our wellbeing, but socialisation – learning how to share space and interact with others - is difficult without communication skills. At the same time frequent miscommunication takes away the joy from the experience of being with other people.
Intensive Interaction supports the person to develop competence and confidence as a communicator, making their social interactions easier and more enjoyable. By expanding their repertoire of interactions, the person is much more likely to want to communicate with someone else and find it a satisfying experience.
How does it work?
Intensive Interaction uses a variety of responses to engage in an exchange. These include:
- Joining in what the person is doing and imitating their movements and gestures
- Delighted face
- Use of vocalisations
- Body language
- Bursts of speech or running commentary
Have a look at this film capturing a variety of interactions.
When is it appropriate
Intensive Interaction can be used at any time and in any place, taking opportunities as they arise. It’s about grabbing the moment, be it a quiet time or in the hustle and bustle of other activities.
Intensive Interaction is not something you schedule, it’s not a timetabled “session". It’s a spontaneous response to someone engaging with you, however it should only happen in one-to-one interactions. It is appropriate to try and initiate the interaction and allow the person to take small steps in getting used to sharing the space with someone else.
How do we know that Intensive Interaction is working?
Although the interaction itself requires a large degree of spontaneity and “rolling with it”, tracking progress is much more disciplined.
When MacIntyre staff use Intensive Interaction with new students, they track the length and intensity of the exchanges over time. What they are looking for is evidence of:
- frequency of repetition of activities
- how the repertoire of responses expands
- how interactions change from unintentional to intentional
- the variety of settings
- if the person starts to initiate interactions with other people
It’s important to remember that the outcomes are emergent – it’s a process of development, not a project with SMART targets.
Most importantly, what should be apparent is that these exchanges are fun for the person and that the person is seeking interaction for the joy of being together with someone else.
If you would like to find out more about Intensive Interaction, visit the website of Intensive Interaction Institute. If you would like to speak to someone at MacIntyre about how we use this approach, please contact us using the form below.
Message for staff
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