This is the third and final post on Intensive Interaction. Be sure to click on the links if you have missed Part One and Part Two. Thanks again, Sara, for taking the time to share your story and for passing on such helpful information.
But my child has many many skills way above baby level!
Our children inevitably have many skills that are way more advanced than a baby and there is no suggestion that these should be ignored. In fact, by following your child's lead (although this is not all we do in I.I.) you will gain a truer sense of the full range of your child's abilities and, therefore be able to give regard to his/her chronological age and all areas of his/er development. But, if your child is missing out on this essential early communication and social learning, then it is a good idea to give more time to this than to anything else.
How Intensive Interaction is done
Parents usually have 'all the time in the world' for their typical babies' development. They delight in their child and live in the moment without the urgent need to drive their babies' learning forward that we autism parents sometimes feel. Babies are given literally thousands of opportunities to rehearse their communication skills and to learn at their own pace (the perfect pace for them). These moments together are rich, fun, enjoyable and give the messages loud and clear to the baby.... 'You are a great person.' 'Your actions (choice of activity) are great.' 'I love spending time with you.'
Intensive Interaction is based on the parent-infant interaction. No equipment is required. The main (often only) 'piece of equipment' is you, the parent (or other adult) but it can also be done around toys or other objects. You start by closely observing him/her to work out what s/he is doing and where his/her mind is focused. Then you try to respond in various ways to some bits and pieces of his/her behavior. You can also just join in the behavior sometimes. This gives the messages: 'Your choices are good.' 'You are interesting.' 'We have things in common.' 'I like spending time with you.' 'You have value.' Intensive Interaction can be done as little or as often as possible and at first, each 'session' might only last a few minutes. Over time you build up a repertoire of enjoyable games and activities through which your child can rehearse the early skills normally rehearsed and acquired in babyhood. As your child begins to develop these skills, sessions will grow in length and complexity and may eventually spill over into all interactions; and can become a way of being/communicating with your child throughout the day.
My final thoughts on Intensive Interaction
Enjoying Intensive Interaction with me
Although Tom still very much qualifies for a diagnosis of autism, he is back! The boy who used to prefer to be alone in another room is now playful and attention seeking. When I am trying to do dishes, for example, Tom constantly interrupts me, wanting to play with me or show me what he's up to. This was absolutely unthinkable a year or so ago. We are very close now ~ a couple of years ago I was depressed about our relationship. The sessions with his therapists are filled with games and laughter.
The hidden depths of I.I. for me have been that, the more Tom learns, the more he learns! In other words, progress was slow at first when Tom really lacked these skills and we had difficulty even connecting. But as Tom grows and acquires skills, our games and interactions become more and more sophisticated and the amount Tom learns in a session gets bigger and bigger.
Tom's language is no longer solely scripted and he produces much of his own language now and much of that is social.
And it's not just Tom or children like Tom, Intensive Interaction does so much for so many people, including reaching out to adults who may have been isolated all their lives. It is an inclusive and deeply caring therapy. It has the added benefit of removing barriers for both parties involved and parents, grand-parents, siblings, teachers and other people who care can also experience the joy of the new connection. Intensive Interaction has healed my own personal pain as a mother and has given me back my baby. I now have much greater hope for his future thanks to this therapy.
I love Intensive Interaction so much that I trained as a coordinator and am VERY happy to help you in any way that I can. Feel free to contact me.
How to get started/Resources
1. Contact me anytime with any questions. I am an autism mum and an Intensive Interaction Coordinator. I also volunteer for Treating Autism - biomedical interventions have played an important part in Tom's progress. firstname.lastname@example.org and mention that the emails is for Tom's mum, Sara. Our website address is www.treatingautism.co.uk
2. "What is Intensive Interaction?" Dave Hewett answers this question on Youtube. What is Intensive Interaction?. "Who is Intensive Interaction for?" Dave Hewett also answers this "So, who is Intensive Interaction for?". This clip contains footage of my Tom!!!
3. For other I.I. Youtube clips, go to this channel. Dave Hewett
4. Also this one... Dave Hewett
5. Very short talk on Intensive Interaction by Miray Kester
6. Yahoo discussion group for parents using Intensive Interaction with their child. Yahoo group
7. Upcoming one day Intensive Interaction courses run by Dave Hewett. Intensive Interaction ~ course programme
8. Look out for Intensive Interaction talks in our future conferences. See Treating Autism for updates.
9. General I.I. information on Dave Hewett's website or on the I.I. website
10. Parents' DVD and information pack, as well as parent's course all available soon. See I.I. website for updates.
11. Facebook page for Intensive Interaction users. Intensive Interaction for parents.
12. The Intensive Interaction handbook with a chapter written for parents (available on Amazon). Intensive Interaction handbook
13. Moving beyond the label A personal account written by the Mum of an autistic boy.
14. Intensive Interaction Parenting A personal account written by the Mum of an autistic girl.
15. Intensive Interaction article