I highly recommend the Intensive Interaction approach to learning early communication skills. I have had many positive and rewarding interactions with my pupils through using the Intensive Interaction principles.
“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)
Here is a video of what Intensive Interaction is, with commentary from Dave Hewett who is one of the founders of the approach.
Whilst taking part in Intensive Interaction, the child will lead and you will join in with the behaviour of the child. This could include copying movements and vocalisations whilst giving the child time to respond. These interactions could be close in proximity, or with a lot of space in between They could be active and noisy, or calm and quiet. It all really depends on the child. These interactions should always be fun and enjoyable!
I particularly enjoy using Intensive Interaction with my non-verbal students and have had a lot of positive feedback from them, by laughing and giggling and showing me they are enjoying it. It is also very noticeable that enabling a child to be the leader in an interaction can be so empowering to them and it’s always very interesting to see which direction they take the interaction. For some children with autism, interactions where they lead can be few and far between and so Intensive Interaction can be interaction that they can enjoy.
I had a really lovely interaction with a non-verbal pupil the other day in the park where I was mirroring his movements and vocalisations and he started jumping on to the floor and back up on to a bench and each time he did, he looked up to my face and smiled (this is quite rare!). We continued doing this for a few minutes before leaning over the back of the bench where again he looked at my face giggling and laughing. He was clearly enjoying the interaction and so was I!
If you are a parent or carer of a child with autism or you know or work with a child with autism, I would highly recommend learning more about the Intensive Interaction approach or watch some of Dave Hewetts videos on YouTube and find out more about this very empowering and rewarding approach to teaching the pre-speech fundamentals of communication.