Intensive Interaction

Intensive Interaction was developed for those whose communication and learning disabilites are more severe or complex; who need to develop the ‘fundamentals of communication’.  It can be useful when communicating and relating is made more difficult by additional physical or sensory impairments and/or autism.

Intensive interaction is also useful for individuals who have some speech and language ability, but need further work to develop their social skills and relationships with others. It supports the individual to relate better to those around them and to learn to enjoy communicating with others.

‘’The Fundamentals of Communication’’  include:
  • Enjoying being with another person
  • Developing the ability to attend to that person
  • Concentration and attention span
  • Learning to do a sequence of activity with the other person (developing shared attention)
  • Taking turns in exchanges of behaviour
  • Sharing personal space
  • Using and understanding eye contacts
  • Using and understanding facial expressions
  • Using and understanding physical contacts
  • Using and understanding non-verbal communication
  • Learning to regulate and control arousal levels
  • Emotional understandings and outcomes
  • To be playful and to have fun.
  • Learning use and understanding of vocalisations, having your vocalisations become more varied and extensive, then gradually more precise and meaningful.
Intensive Interaction is based on the natural communication development of very young children. We can use intensive interaction at any time and in any place, with people of any age.

Intensive Interaction requires the communication partner to adjust their communication to a developmentally appropriate level for the individual concerned. Interactions centre on playful and enjoyable exchanges. 

Top tips for Intensive interaction: 
  • Take the individual’s lead: respond to what they do by joining in, commenting, imitating. 
  • ‘Tune-in’: to the individuals' communication, mood, non-verbal signals etc. 
  • Use timing and rhythm, and repetition.
  • Pause: don’t rush or try to fill silences.
  • Focus: give quality one-to-one time.
  • Reflect: on their responses and yours.
  • Observe: spend time watching how they communicate and what they enjoy.
  • Enjoy! Relax and have fun. If you enjoy it then they are more likely to as well.
Further Intensive Interaction information can be found:
  • Hewett, D., Barber, M., Firth, G. & Harrison, T. (2011) The Intensive Interaction Handbook. London: Sage Publications.
There is also an Intensive Interaction discussion forum on Facebook and many videos by Dave Hewett available on YouTube.
Intensive Interaction Resources

Here are some further resources about Intensive Interaction that you may find useful. Please speak to a Speech and Language therapist if you have any questions.

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