The aim of this study was to investigate the sometimes conscious and sometimes ‘intuitive’decision making processes of Intensive Interaction practitioners. More specifically, this study set out to develop a rich description of how practitioners make judgements when developing a multi-faceted and dynamic repertoire* of interactive strategies used with both children and adults with severe or profound learning difficulties and/or autism; how this decision making process is enacted in practice, and what issues inform such decisions.
This research followed a qualitative methodology, comprising of semi-structured interviews of between 60 – 90 minutes with 13 experienced Intensive Interaction Practitioners. The 13 participants in this study were all experienced Intensive Interaction Practitioners who had successfully completed the Intensive Interaction Coordinators course administered by the Intensive Interaction Institute.
The participants, known to the lead researcher, were recruited via email and included: Speech & Language Therapists, parents, teachers, residential care staff and managers, and a Clinical Psychologist.
The nature of Intensive Interaction as a social communication is that it is used naturalistically, dynamically and holistically i.e. as a whole, interconnected approach and only fully explicable by reference to the whole approach. Indeed, at varying times Intensive Interaction will almost certainly comprise the concurrent use of a broad range of social communication strategies. However, for the purposes of this research, and to better understand the combined experiences and thoughts of the respondent Intensive Interaction practitioners, we have divided this report into clearly defined conceptual themes or categories, even though the conceptual boundaries between these themes and categories may in practice often be very diffuse.
It is hoped that this study will make a useful contribution to the field in terms of enabling practitioners to more fully understand and thus usefully reflect on the fidelity of their Intensive Interaction work, and develop a clearer understanding of the issues involved in the decision making processes that underpin their Intensive Interaction practices.
(*The ‘repertoire’ of a person being defined as comprising: ‘the effective activities that the individual
student/client uses comfortably with the available interactive partners’ (Nind & Hewett, 2005, p.133))