Intensive Interaction

Intensive Interaction is a practical approach to improving the social communication and engagement of people with severe or profound learning disabilities and/or autism.

The Leeds Intensive Interaction Project was founded in 2003 and is part of our trust’s learning disability services.  The Leeds Intensive Interaction project provides individualised Intensive Interaction services and training for parents, carers, support staff, professionals and any other groups who may want to use the approach with the people who they care for or support.

Our Trust also continues to support, develop and promote the approach in partnership with the Intensive Interaction Institute.

What is Intensive Interaction?

Developed in the 1980s, Intensive Interaction is a psychosocial approach to communication development that is most often used with people who have severe or profound and multiple learning difficulties and/or autism, although Intensive Interaction is now also being used with other people who find social engagement difficult e.g. people with late stage dementia.

The approach focuses on using the ‘Fundamentals of Communication’ as a means of establishing and developing social communication exchanges. The ‘Fundamentals of Communication’ are those communication skills and understandings that, in developmental terms, normally precede symbolic speech development: although Intensive Interaction is now also being used with people who do have speech and language comprehension.

These ‘Fundamentals of Communication’ are the social communication capabilities of:

  • learning to share personal space
  • developing the ability to attend to another person
  • using and understanding eye contacts and facial expressions
  • using and understanding sociable physical contacts
  • using vocalisations with meaning (for some, speech development)
  • taking turns in exchanges of behaviour, and/or sequencing a social activity with another person
  • enjoying being with another person

See the resources section below for more information on the approach.