Is what I am doing Intensive Interaction or not?

For my Blog this week I am reproducing a slightly abridged section of the FAQs document from the Intensive Interaction Institute ‘Adult Services Document Pack‘ (it’s also in the ‘Curriculum Documents for Schools‘ pack as well).

So, how do I know if I am doing Intensive Interaction … or just having a nice time with the person?

Well, that’s a good question.  However, Intensive Interaction has certain ‘key elements’ that make it what it is – genuinely, intensively interactive. So, consider these points:

It probably is Intensive Interaction if it has these key elements:

  • The first intention is to promote the learning of the ‘Fundamentals of Communication’
  • The aim is also for visible, tangible mutual enjoyment for the person and practitioner
  • The practitioner is visibly relaxed in all aspects of style and has an ‘available’ look
  • The interactivity does not commence if the person is not in the right frame of mind for it, and then ceases when the person has had enough
  • The practitioner watches and waits for appropriate ‘communication moments’ to respond to or join in with, allowing the person’s behaviour to lead the form and tempo of the interactivity
  • The practitioner ‘tunes-in’ to the person, and is sensitive to all feedback signals coming from the person – and responds appropriately to them
  • The practitioner is both non-directive and responsive in style, developing the content and the flow of the activity by allowing the person to take the lead
  • The practitioner may employ occasional initiations, albeit carefully and sparingly – but only if this does not conflict with the general sense of overall responsiveness
  • The activity is task-less – it does not have a pre-determined objective or end-point
  • The activities may appear highly repetitive both within and across Intensive Interaction activities – but such repetition is an essential feature of the structure for the person
  • The main interactive resource in Intensive Interaction is the practitioner’s face, voice, body language and sense of presence … any other thing, any toy, object or activity can also form part of the focus of the interaction when led by the person

And … it probably is not Intensive Interaction if:

  • The practitioner’s intention is to use any developed interactivity to modify challenging or other unwanted behaviour
  • The practitioner behaves in more directive ways e.g. with frequent and/or insensitive attempts at initiation, or by dictating the content of any interactivity, or by demanding the performance of certain set or desired responses
  • The practitioner doesn’t do much, just being around the person in an outwardly relaxed fashion, but then fails to ‘tune in’ to them or ‘be with’ them in a socially interactive manner
  • The practitioner fails to respond to any signals of negativity from the person, continuing any interactivity past the point when the person has had enough

Does that help? – I hope so.

This Blog is adapted from the work of Cath Irvine, Dave Hewett, Jules McKim & Graham Firth.

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