Intensive Interaction

What is Intensive Interaction?

Intensive Interaction is a technique used to engage children with others. It uses strategies of copying or joining in with children to develop eye contact and mutual enjoyment, therefore building relationships. It is an approach to teaching the pre-speech fundamentals of communication to children and adults who have severe learning difficulties and/or autism and who are still at an early stage of communication development. The approach was developed during the nineteen-eighties by the team of staff working at Harperbury Hospital School Herfordshire. Harperbury was a school for people who have severe learning difficulties on the campus of a large long-stay hospital in southern England. The developments followed the work of the late Geraint Ephraim Ph.D, a psychologist who worked in the Hertfordshire long-stay hospitals. Dave Hewett Ph.D and Melanie Nind Ph.D, were teachers at Harperbury School, and they carried out Intensive Interaction research projects at the school as part of the development work.

Intensive Interaction is based on research showing the style of interaction that is connected with effective learning for infants (in Western culture).

Intensive Interaction at Broadmeadow

Communication is vital in order to function in all aspects of life, although this is, unfortunately, the main area that is affected by autism and the majority of other disabilities. We decided that we needed to know more and have a better understanding of this approach. Following a whole school staff training day in June 2007, facilitated by Dave Hewitt himself, we have since taken on board this approach to learning and have experienced great success:

  • Great changes in behaviours are noticed.
  • Children are actively seeking attention.
  • Improvement in facial expressions, smiling, more eye contact.
  • Development of self-esteem, confidence, and gaining independence.
  • Barriers to learning are reduced.
  • Personalities are developed and became more prominent.
  • Relationships are formed through Intensive Interaction with interaction partners.

By receiving Intensive Interaction, the children manage to let others into their world, form bonds and make relationships. This in turn helps them to gain confidence, and put trust in parents/carers and teachers; develop self-esteem and the motivation to explore and learn. They gain an interest in the world around them as opposed to self-isolation, absorbed in their own world.

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