An analysis of the Intensive Interaction ‘Strengths’

As part of the current organisational changes taking place at the Intensive Interaction Institute, those of us involved in the process have been asked to contribute to a SWOT analysis (SWOT = Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats).

I thought it might be useful to share my contribution on our approach’s identifiable ‘Strengths’ on my Blog. However, I am sure that mine is not a complete or sufficiently detailed list, so perhaps you (the reader) might want to add your own in the comments section below.

The ‘Strenghts’ of the Intensive Interaction approach:

Because of the radically insightful and detailed research carried out during its development stages by Dave Hewett and Melanie Nind, and their supporters ( and many others since then), Intensive Interaction is both technically coherent and theoretically sound; the approach being firmly based on the most naturalistic and powerful social communication developmental process.

Intensive Interaction is firmly founded within the right values system e.g. as set out in Article 19 of the UN ‘Universal Declaration of Human Rights‘ (1948), which protects the rights of all people to communicate information and ideas in different ways!

Intensive Interaction research studies into its efficacy have been published in a wide range of high-ranking research and academic journals (across the world) for over 30 years (the first being in ‘An evaluation of intensive interactive teaching with pupils with very severe learning difficulties‘ by Watson & Knight, 1991); many of these papers being published in peer-reviewed journals in the fields of special education, learning disabilities, psychology, etc (BJLD, BJSpEd, JARID, JPP, EJSpEd, etc, etc, etc,)

Intensive Interactive sits well within social-constructivist and sociocultural theoretical frameworks of education and human development, whilst also according well with humanistic and person-centred models of psychological therapy and care.

Intensive Interaction now has behind it over 3 decades of practice related anecdotal evidence of its effectiveness – just ask anyone who has done it or seen it!

There is a massive well/reservoir of good wishes and support from the current members of our world-wide Intensive Interaction community, including parents, family members, carers, support workers, professionals (across many fields e.g. education, learning disabilities, therapy services), etc.

Intensive Interaction is now becoming a truly international approach, understood and practiced across all inhabited continents (i.e. not counting Antarctica), this being clearly evidenced by so many international participants attending this year’s online Intensive Interaction Conference.

In the UK Intensive Interaction is explicitly acknowledged and/or recommended as good practice across a number of statutory or NGO documents setting out aspects of ‘best practice’ by – The Dept of Health, The Dept of Education, The Royal College of Speech & Language Therapy, The Royal College of Psychiatry, The British Psychological Society, MENCAP, NAS, etc, etc.

Intensive Interaction type techniques are recommended across a number of UK Dept. of Health (NICE) guidelines for working to support both adults and children with learning disabilities and/or autism (albeit without being explicitly named as ‘Intensive Interaction’ – but Intensive Interaction fits well within these National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guidelines).

Intensive Interaction is taught on many graduate and post-graduate courses across UK universities on courses including, speech and language therapy, clinical psychology, LD nursing, special education, occupational therapy, and disability studies. Also, Intensive Interaction has been chosen as an elective area of study for students studying other humanities and professional courses e.g. social work, music therapy, etc.

On a personal level, no one that I have worked with in my 25+ years of Intensive Interaction experience, once introduced to the principles and practices of Intensive Interaction, has ever gone back from seeing it as a central aspect of their communication practices with people with learning disabilities or autism; and its use with people with late-stage dementia now becoming increasingly discussed and practiced.

Oh … it just feels right, and it’s also fun to do! So, what’s not to like!

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