For nearly a year now I have been filming Intensive Interactions between Lucy - a 40 year old lady I support - and myself.
Although Lucy does not use words to communicate, she has a few of her own gestures and has some adapted Makaton signing. She uses vocalisations to express happiness and unhappiness throughout the day and night. Lucy laughs a lot, bouncing up and down constantly with so much energy, even after only maybe 3 hours of sleep.
Lucy has her favourite staff and together they have their favourite repertoire of songs and rhymes, however her ‘go to’ choice is always "Wind The Bobbin Up". She never tires of this song and will constantly, with some staff, gesture for this song. She can be very animated and persistent with enthusiasm for this song.
Even though we know that Lucy enjoys singing, and there have been some Great Interactions when staff have supported her into the sitting room for singing or to help her calm down when we haven't quite understood what she has tried to communicate to us, always reverting to this song can become quite repetitive and isn’t necessarily what Lucy needs or really wants. Intensive Interaction was a different solution.
On various occasions I have tried setting up the video camera to capture our Intensive Interactions, where Lucy was leading the interaction, as it was important that the communication was initiated by her and that I would be responsive only. The timing was always difficult, but I got there.
I used the videos to self-evaluate my practice by reflecting on the principles of Intensive Interaction. I also shared them with Anita Waddington, MacIntyre's Practice Development Facilitator who mentored me. The videos had to show Lucy leading the interaction and me responding to what she did or vocalised. It was about two-way communication based on respect, with lots of pauses to give Lucy the time she needed to process and engage. The videos showed evidence of positive and visible changes, albeit at a very slow pace. Lucy’s communication skills started to develop and she became more engaged with increased smiling, eye contact, vocalisations, touch and her moving of my hands. I was using both Great Interactions' 10 facilitation skills as well as techniques from the Intensive Interaction list, and it worked!
I am delighted to have just been awarded 'Intensive Interaction Competent Practitioner' certificate and I would like to thank not only Anita for her time, feedback and encouragement, but also Lucy who unknowingly has helped me to develop new skills, and as a result has made me better able to communicate with her.
Support Worker, Oxfordshire