Intensive Interaction

Intensive Interaction is an approach developed to support those with social communication/interaction difficulties. It supports the development of the Fundamentals of Communication, enabling learners to connect and relate to others, and to build positive relationships.

Fundamentals of Communication:

  • Enjoying being with another person

  • Developing the ability to attend to that person

  • Concentration & attention span

  • Sharing personal space

  • Using & understanding eye contact, non-verbal communication, physical contact

  • Using vocalisations with meaning

  • Learning to do sequences of activity with another person

  • Taking turns in exchanges of behaviour

  • Learning to regulate arousal levels

  • Knowing that others care: learning to care

  • Self-security: to feel safe, secure, calm

  • Self-esteem, sense of self

  • To gradually understand feelings

  • Trust & empathy

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Nind & Hewett, 2001. Emotional learning: based on various, Bowlby, 1953, Lamb et al, 2002, Schore, 2003

How to do Intensive Interaction

One key principle of Intensive Interaction is that the learner stays in the lead of the interaction…another is that the interaction stops when the learner has had enough!

Practitioners use techniques based on the natural model of communication. Firstly, we spend time really tuning-in and getting to know the learner. We show we are listening with an available expression and/or body language and wait for the learner to lead the interaction. We then respond when the learner does/says something: our responses will vary according to the learner & interaction but can involve joining-in, imitating, commenting. There is also a real focus on mutual enjoyment within the interactions - we have lots of fun!

Why Intensive Interaction is so important

Supporting emotional wellbeing is fundamental and Intensive Interaction plays a big role in developing this. Intensive Interaction helps our pupils to feel safe, secure, valued and to build positive trusting and caring relationships with others. It supports them to access social communication at a level that is right for them.

What Intensive Interaction looks like at Tettenhall Wood School

Staff are always on the look-out for opportunities for Intensive Interaction throughout the day. Intensive Interaction can happen anywhere...from the car park to the swimming pool, and everywhere in between!

Each interaction will be unique to the learner. Some are quiet and thoughtful, some are busy and full of energy. As practitioners, we try to get the pace just right for the learner.


Staff training

All staff receive Intensive Interaction training as part of their Induction programme as well as a yearly refresher delivered by a qualified Intensive Interaction Co-ordinator.

More information

For more information on Intensive Interaction, visit or contact Lucy Hankin, Intensive Interaction Co-ordinator