An Introduction to Intensive Interaction Workshop

Intensive interaction is an approach to teaching the pre-speech fundamentals of communication to children and adults who have severe learning difficulties and/or autism and who are still at an early stage of communication development.

Intensive Interaction was developed in the UK in the 1980s and is now used across hundreds of special schools, therapy clinics, community centres and institutions around the globe.

A relationship based intervention, it teaches clinicians, educators and health professionals how to utilise the foundation skills of interaction to support people with significant intellectual disabilities and communication impairments.

Intensive Interaction training gives its participants skills to coach parents, caregivers and paraprofessionals on how to engage and interact meaningfully with people with significant disabilities and/or autism.

A survey in the UK found that over 85% of Speech and Language therapists were using intensive interaction in their practice! [Goldbart & Caton 2010]

This event has passed.  If you would like to register your interest to be notified about the next time we run the event, please email

This full day training event is relevant to Special Educators, Speech Pathologists, Occupational Therapists, Allied Health Professionals and Day Service Workers who have contact with learners experiencing severe and profound intellectual and multiple disabilities and/or autistic spectrum disorders

Intensive Interaction training agenda:

What is it?

What is it?

Learn about Intensive Interaction approach to intervention and how it differs from other intervention approaches used to support people with complex disabilities or autism.
Who do you do it with?

Who do you do it with?

Examples and vignettes will be shared to give a thorough understanding of the ideal clients who would benefit from the Intensive Interaction process.
What do you do?

What do you do?

Intensive interaction is an intricate process! Learn the essential steps and nuances of successfully participating in an intensive interaction exchange with your client.
What does it look like?

What does it look like?

View, analyse and provide feedback to intensive interaction processes and identify what makes the interaction conducive to that clients communication and development.
Where does Intensive Interaction come from?

Where does Intensive Interaction come from?

A brief overview of the history of Intensive Interaction and where it sits theoretically and against current evidence-based research.
What’s the theory?

What’s the theory?

Acquire information about the theoretical underpinnings of the Intensive Interaction approach.
What’s the evidence?

What’s the evidence?

Receive references of the most recent publication information about Intensive Interaction and what the evidence is currently evaluating.
How do you support it happening?

How do you support it happening?

Brainstorm ways to fit Intensive Interaction in your everyday clinical practice as well as coaching parents and caregivers to integrate the approach into their daily lives.
What makes it different?

What makes it different?

Learn about how the Intensive Interaction approach differs from other relationship based approaches.
Is it age appropriate?

Is it age appropriate?

Discover what the research currently says about age-appropriateness and how this aligns with the Intensive Interaction approach.
Presenter - Dr Mark Barber

Presenter - Dr Mark Barber

Dr. Mark Barber is the Australian Director of the Intensive Interaction Institute. Originally from the UK, he founded Intensive Interaction Australia when he arrived in 2003 and has worked to spread recognition and understanding of the approach across Australasia. He is I.I. Coordinator and Learning Specialist at Bayside SDS in Victoria where he leads and learns with his colleagues in the school’s constantly evolving Community of Practice. He has delivered professional development in universities, schools, NGOs and State-wide services as well at national and international conferences. He has contributed to and co-authored several publications about Intensive Interaction with its founder Dr Dave Hewett and Graham Firth.

Your hosts for this event are:

Soar Speech Pathology

Soar Speech Pathology

Carla Mira is the founder of Soar Speech Pathologist, a private clinic in Melbourne. Carla is a paediatric speech pathologist with over a decade of experience working with children with profound disabilities across Australia, the UK and Vietnam. She has a Master’s degree in Education (special inclusion) and has completed her post-graduate certificate in education- Intensive Interaction. As an Intensive Interaction practitioner she is passionate about spreading the skills of intensive interaction across her professional cohort.
Sydney Speech Clinic

Sydney Speech Clinic

Sydney Speech Clinic is a professional speech pathology service located in the heart of the village. We assist children and adults of all ages from toddlers to the elderly. Our therapy approaches are evidence-based and also lots of fun! We have strong links with the local community and as well as clinic based sessions we also support children within various local preschools and schools. Our speech therapists visit nursing homes and other medical facilities.

Articles on Intensive Interaction

There are a whole range of articles and studies on Intensive Interaction.  

  • Journal of Applied Research in Intellectual Disabilities: Social Interaction with Adults with Severe
    Intellectual Disability: Having Fun and Hanging Out
  • Journal of Intellectual Disabilities: An evaluation of Intensive Interaction in community living settings for adults with profound intellectual disabilities
  • Journal of Intellectual Disability Research: Examination of the communication interface between students with severe to profound and multiple intellectual disability and educational staff during structured teaching sessions

If you are interested if further research material, the following published literature will provide further information:

  • Firth, G., Berry, R. & Irvine, C. (2010) Understanding Intensive Interaction: Context and Concepts for Professionals and Families. London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.
  • Firth, G. & Barber, M. (2011) Using Intensive Interaction with a Person with a Social or Communicative Impairment. London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.
  • Hewett, D. (Ed) (2011) Intensive Interaction - Theoretical Perspectives. London: Sage Publications.
  • Hewett, D., Firth, G., Barber, M. & Harrison, T. (2012) The Intensive Interaction Handbook. London: Sage Publications.
  • Hewett, D. & Nind, M. (Eds) (1998) Interaction in Action: Reflections on the Use of Intensive Interaction. London: David Fulton.
  • Kellett, M. & Nind, M. (2003) Implementing Intensive Interaction in Schools: Guidance for Practitioners, Managers and Coordinators. London: David Fulton.
  • Nind, M. & Hewett, D. (2005) Access to Communication (2nd edition): Developing the basics of communication with people with severe learning difficulties through Intensive Interaction. London: David Fulton.
  • Argyropoulou, Z. & Papoudi, D. (2012) ‘The training of a child with autism in a Greek preschool inclusive class through Intensive Interaction: a case study.’ European Journal of Special Needs Education, 27 (1), 99-114.
  • Barber, M. (2008) ‘Using Intensive Interaction to add to the palette of interactive possibilities in teacher-pupil communication.’ European Journal of Special Needs Education, 23 (4), 393-402.
  • Berry, R., Firth, G., Leeming, C. & Sharma, V. (2013) ‘Clinical Psychologists’ Views of Intensive Interaction as an Intervention in Learning Disability Services’, Clinical Psychology & Psychotherapy, 21 (5), 403-410.
  • Elgie, S. & Maguire, N. (2001) 'Intensive Interaction with a Woman with Multiple and Profound Disabilities; a case study.’ Tizard Learning Disability Review, (6) 3, 18-24.
  • Firth, G., Elford, H., Leeming, C., & Crabbe, M. (2008) ‘Intensive Interaction as a Novel Approach in Social Care: Care Staff’s Views on the Practice Change Process.’ Journal of Applied Research in Intellectual Disabilities, 21, 58-69.
  • Fraser, C. (2011) ‘Can adults on the autism spectrum be affected positively by the use of intensive interaction in supported living services?’, Good Autism Practice, 12 (2), 37-42.
  • Harris, C. & Wolverson, E. (2014) ‘Intensive Interaction: to build fulfilling relationships’, The Journal of Dementia Care, 22 (6), p.27-30.
  • Hutchinson, N. & Bodicoat, A. (2015) ‘The Effectiveness of Intensive Interaction: A Systematic Literature Review’, Journal of Applied Research in Intellectual Disabilities, 28 (6), 437-454.
  • Kellett, M. (2000) ‘Sam’s Story: Evaluating Intensive Interaction in Terms of its Effect on the Social and Communicative ability of a Young Child With Severe Learning Difficulties’, Support for Learning, 15 (4), 165-171.
  • Kellett, M. (2005) ‘Catherine’s Legacy: social communication development for individuals with profound learning difficulties and fragile life expectancies.’ British Journal of Special Education, 32 (3), 116-121.
  • Leaning, B. & Watson T. (2006) ‘From the inside looking out – an Intensive Interaction group for people with profound and multiple learning disabilities.’ British Journal of Learning Disabilities, 34, 103-109.
  • Lovell, D., Jones, S. & Ephraim, G. (1998) ‘The Effect of Intensive Interaction on the Sociability of a Man with Severe Intellectual Disabilities.’ International Journal of Practical Approaches to Disability, 22 (2/3), 3-8.
  • Nind, M. (1996) ‘Efficacy of Intensive Interaction; Developing sociability and communication in people with severe and complex learning difficulties using an approach based on caregiver- infant interaction.’ European Journal of Special Educational Needs, 11 (1), 48-66.
  • Rayner, K., Bradley, S., Johnson, G., Mrozik, J., Appiah, A. & Nagra, M. (2016) ‘Teaching Intensive Interaction to paid carers: using the ‘communities of practice’ model to inform training’, British Journal of Learning Disabilities, 44 (1), 63-70.
  • Samuel, J., Nind, M., Volans, A. & Scriven, I. (2008) ‘An evaluation of Intensive Interaction in community living settings for adults with profound intellectual disabilities.' Journal of Intellectual Disabilities, 12, 111-126.
  • Sharma, V. & Firth, G. (2012) ‘Effective engagement through Intensive Interaction’, Learning Disability Practice, 15 (9), 20-23.
  • Watson, J. & Fisher, A. (1997) ‘Evaluating the Effectiveness 0f Intensive Interaction Teaching with Pupils with Profound and Complex Learning Disabilities.’ British Journal of Special Education, 24 (2), 80-87.
  • Watson, J. & Knight, C. (1991) ‘An Evaluation of Intensive Interactive Teaching with Pupils with Very Severe Learning Difficulties.’ Child Language Teaching and Therapy, 7 (3), 310-25.
  • Zeedyk, S., Davies, C., Parry, S. & Caldwell, P. (2009) ‘Fostering social engagement in Romanian children with communicative impairments: The experiences of newly trained practitioners of Intensive Interaction.’ British Journal of Learning Disabilities, 37 (3), 186-196.
  • Zeedyk, S., Caldwell, P. & Davies, C. (2009) ‘How rapidly does Intensive Interaction promote social engagement for adults with profound learning disabilities and communicative impairments?’ European Journal of Special Needs Education, 24 (2), 119–137.

Frequently Asked Questions

1Where is the workshop being held?
The workshop is being held in Lane Cove, Sydney. The facility is a custom-built training/conference facility with a large projector screen and comfortable seating arrangements. The address of the workshop is: 1 Pottery Lane, Lane Cove, 2066, NSW. The facility is in the heart of Lane Cove - there are plenty of cafes, restaurants, supermarkets and other speciality shops close by.
2Is food provided?
Each participant will receive as part of their ticket cost - morning tea, lunch and afternoon tea as well as tea, coffee and water throughout the day. The meals are prepared by our onsite chef. Please let us know of any dietary requirements when booking your ticket.
3What do I need to bring?
Please bring a notepad and writing materials. Course material will be provided to you on the day.
4How do I pay?
Once you have registered and we have a sufficient number of attendees, you will receive a link where you can purchase tickets to the workshop.
5Can parents/carers attend?
No unfortunately not - this training is aimed at allied health professionals and educators. If you are interested in attending training as a parent/carer, please send us an email to and if we get sufficient interest then we will organise a parent training event.
6Is parking available?
The building has a multistory underground carpark run by the Lane Cove Council. The carpark entrance is on Little Street, opposite the Lane Cove Aquatic Centre. It costs approximately $40 for a full day of parking. The first three hours are free. Surrounding residential streets in Lane Cove also have off-street parking available. The location of the carpark on google maps is: