Mark Barber, Bayside Special Developmental School

Intensive Interaction is an evidence based and inclusive approach to supporting people with the most complex intellectual disabilities to communicate and be social. The interests and activities that learners focus on are harnessed as opportunities for them to experiment with the idea of social agency, while exploring sustained social interaction.

Staff synchronize with the learner’s interpersonal behaviours to become engaging, ‘readable’ & intriguing to them. They then follow their attention and foci, responding in a way that encourages naturalistic, open ended and interactive dialogue-like ‘games’ to emerge, that give the beginning communicator a sense of influence, efficacy and control.

Schools using the approach evaluate learning using video of students involved in ‘taskless’ interaction, which is moderated annually by the Communities of practice Supporting them. Moderation is achieved using the ’Bayside SDS Framework for Recognizing Progress’ and video taken from previous years

Students’ communicative involvement and emotional wellbeing has improved across many measures including movement among the levels of the moderation measuring tool; parent’s anecdotal accounts and records of the students’ Personal Learning Plans.

Continual improvement is supported through programs of peer coaching and inservice professional development available through Statewide and Interstate Communities of Practice in Victoria, Queensland and New Zealand.

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