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.


Download our Introduction to Intensive Interaction for more information on the approach. The document also gives details on a range of further information resources including:

  • Websites
  • Social media and DVDs/videos
  • Books
  • Training packs
  • Other useful media resources


The Intensive Interaction Institute

The Leeds Intensive Interaction Project has worked in partnership with the Intensive Interaction Institute since its creation in 2010 to continue the work of defining and disseminating Intensive Interaction across a broad range of partner organisations.

In partnership with the Institute we now provide:

  • a free quarterly digital newsletter
  • a range of training and service resource packs
  • UK wide Intensive Interaction Regional Support Groups
  • the annual UK Intensive Interaction conference

The ongoing partnership between our Trust and the Institute has enabled both parties to benefit from the acknowledged expertise and energy of the staff of both organisations.

The partnership benefits service users, carers, support staff and professionals who use Intensive Interaction to develop and sustain improved social communications outcomes for people with communication and/or social impairments.

To view more from the Intensive Interaction Institute visit:


Training and support

Our in-house Intensive Interaction Highly Specialist Practitioner Graham Firth offers a programme of enhanced training and support.

Working since 1984 in both the residential care and the education of people with learning disabilities, Graham became the Intensive Interaction Project Leader for the Trust in 2003. He continues to provide consultancy and training packages to support others to adopt, develop and sustain their Intensive Interaction practices or services.

Graham can offer the following training programmes:

  • An introductory Intensive Interaction two hour presentation
  • An Introductory Half-Day Intensive Interaction Presentation
  • An Introductory 1 Day Presentation on Intensive Interaction
  • The Intensive Interaction Foundation Modular Training Programme (three days)

Download the training brochure for more details.

Get in touch

The Leeds Intensive Interaction Project is part of our Trust’s learning disability service based at St. Mary’s Hospital.