Now what’s that thing about Intensive Interaction then? You may have heard the name being dropped by colleagues or observed a colleague doing Intensive Interaction such as having quality one-to-one time with a person you support. These interactions usually involve turn-taking sequences with extended, enjoyable shared attention and the main motivator for being in the activity is the sheer natural enjoyment. Intensive Interactions can be lively, playful, noisy, quiet, thoughtful or peaceful. They may also be an intense exchange of vocalisations, just like any conversation between familiar people having a natter.
Intensive Interaction is a teaching approach for communication abilities. It helps people of all ages who have severe learning disabilities and/or autism to learn how to enjoy being with other people, relate, interact, communicate, focus and concentrate and then gradually learn the complicated detail of communication. It is based on researched understandings as to how all people learn to communicate during infancy.
When thinking about doing Intensive Interaction consider the best piece of equipment in your home or workplace. Is it the bag full of sensory items or the touch screen? No, it is you, a human being. You are the most interesting, flexible, intelligent, wonderful piece of equipment by far. No object can do what you as a person can do. So the main teaching resources during Intensive Interaction sessions is your face, your voice, your body language, your sense of presence, your personality, your way of being. Before embracing the approach, however, it would be very helpful to attend some training, which, if you work for MacIntyre, may be coming your way very soon!
At Wingrave School I have been spending time doing Intensive Interaction with Sam who joined our school last September. Sam is a very energetic and inquisitive young boy who loves to explore his environment and doesn’t leave any drawers or boxes unturned! Sam is intrigued by many things but struggled finding enjoyment in being with other people. After a few months of Intensive Interaction and lots of help from the wonderful people who support him in house and school we now have a Sam who increasingly opens up to the people around him and can have extended periods of being with someone with lots of giggles and the occasional eye contact. There is still a lot of progress to be made but it will be one of the most valuable gifts our school can give him on his journey to adulthood! The fundamentals of communication!
So going back to the question as to whether Great Interactions and Intensive Interaction are the same or different? I guess the idea behind Intensive Interaction is more educational and is carried out purposefully during sessions by someone who is very mindful of progressing a person’s communication skills in whichever form. Great Interactions are the way we are with the people we support – at all times!