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Mulberry Primary School

Intensive Interaction

At Mulberry Primary School Provision for Autism we use intensive interaction with pupils who are developing early interaction skills.

Intensive interaction was devised by David Hewett and Melanie Nind in the 1980’s. The basis of their approach came from examination of the characteristics of the caregiver-infant interaction model during the first two years of life for typically developing children. 

The approach is designed to help people for whom communication can be very difficult. This includes children who are not yet using language. 

The aims of this approach are to teach the following ‘fundamentals of communication’ which need to be in place for effective communication and learning to develop:

  • Enjoying being with another person
  • Developing the ability to attend to that person
  • Concentration and attention span
  • Sharing personal space and giving and receiving touch
  • Using and understanding eye contact
  • Using and understanding facial expression and body language
  • Taking turns with another person so that communication can take place
  • Starting to use movements and noises with meaning
  • Having fun and enjoying being with others


The theory which underlies the approach is based on the interaction between an adult and child, and focuses on developing opportunities for communication. The adult and child share quality one to one time together where the adult follows the child’s lead at all times.

During the sessions, the adult watches the child closely in order to follow the child’s lead, on his/her level.

At all times the adult tries to convey to the child that they are in control and builds on the child’s early communication skills. In this way everyone interacting with the child can come to learn their communication signals.