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Intensive Interaction

Intensive Interaction has been introduced in to Southport Special School to meet the needs of a very important part of our school community. It is an approach which supports people with very complex learning needs which sometimes include those with what is often called ‘ autism spectrum disorders’ to communicate.
For these students Intensive interaction is used throughout all phases of schooling and its strong communication and developmental focus links very closely with the early stages of the Australian Curriculum
What is Intensive Interaction?
Intensive Interaction is a way of enabling our students to learn how to communicate. It focuses on the Fundamentals of Communication such as turn taking, using gaze, sociability, and the use and meaning of facial expressions which most of us learned in the first year of life and therefore take for granted. Intensive Interaction is grounded in developing these key communication skills and providing frequent opportunities for students to extend their communication abilities using their own gestures and vocalisations.

Intensive Interaction is about acknowledging the student’s existing communication methods, interests and skills and using these as a meeting point in which learning can take place. For the person who:
· May appear to be unable to understand or join in with what is happening around them
· Makes very little or no eye contact
· May appear to be locked into their own world
Intensive Interaction is supported by evidence based practice.


Who is it for?

The approach was specifically developed with and for people who experience very complex intellectual disabilities.
It was developed as a way of working with people who don’t really understand that they can socialize or share a ‘joint focus of attention’ with other people. It is also for people whose communication needs to be interpreted or “read’ by others.


What are the aims?

The approach focuses on supporting students to gain successful, memorable and enjoyable experience of the Fundamentals of Communication. These are:

· Enjoying being with another person
· Developing the ability to attend to that person
· Concentration and attention span
· Learning to do sequences of activity with the other person
· Using and understanding facial expressions
· Using and understanding physical contacts
· Using and understanding non-verbal communication
· Using vocalisations with meaning
· Layers of emotional understanding
· Learning to regulate and control arousal levels
This approach is less about formal teaching and more about helping someone to learn.
· Taking turns in exchanges of behaviour
· Sharing personal space
· Using and understanding eye contacts


What do we do?

Staff enter into social games using the sounds movements and actions which are familiar to students, to facilitate dialogues and develop relationships. This enables students to feel they are understood, valued and have a sense of control and connectedness to the social world around them.

Intensive Interaction involves staff working one to one with students so that their  

experiences and learning is just right for them and what they need.  


Is this a Southport Special Thing??


No! Intensive Interaction is a heavily researched practice used in over 150 schools across Queensland, Victoria, New South Wales, South Australia, ACT and Northern Territories as well as internationally in countries such as the United Kingdom, Germany, New Zealand and the USA.


Southport Special School is part of an ever increasing network of Queensland Schools using Intensive Interaction to provide the best possible outcomes for students who communicate in their own unique way which may not be obvious or easily recognized.