Recording Intensive Interaction – Baselines

In order for a recording system to have integrity progress must be compared to a baseline level.  We can use the seven levels of engagement introduced in the last post to assess our partner’s baseline level of communication ability and then use this to ascertain any future progress.
My requirements for a baseline system were as follows:

  • Involves enough data so as to avoid inaccuracies
  • Practical enough for classroom use i.e. not too staff intensive
  • Simple to learn
  • Accurate

After a few months of experimentation we eventually settled on the following method at Woolley Wood using this Baseline Assessment form.
(Download and open or print the file so that you can make sense of the next set of instructions).
Baseline Method

  1. Find another member of staff (or family member) to film the interactions.
  2. Film a three minute interaction.
  3. Find a time to watch the video together with the person who did the filming.
  4. Begin watching the video and after 30 seconds stop the video and use the engagement profile to assess the level of the interaction.
  5. Record this level using a tally mark on the Baseline Form.
  6. Continue watching the video stopping every 30 seconds to make an assessment and mark the form.
  7. At the end of three minutes you should have 6 marks on the Baseline Form.
  8. Over a period of 7-14 days film some more interactions and repeat steps 1-6.

Having completed the above steps you can ascertain the overall baseline level.  Count the tallys in each box to find:

a) The level that was recorded the most times (AVERAGE)

b) The highest level recorded on  the sheet (MOST INTERACTIVE EPISODE)

Write down the levels in the appropriate areas in the top right hand area of the form and the Baseline assessment is complete.
Things to consider

  • In the school we use iPads to film the interaction because it we can watch the video straight away on the iPad screen rather than having to download the film onto a computer.
  • At the school we do five 3 minute videos over a period of 7-14 days.  The purpose of this is so that we have record the interactions when the child is in different moods, on different days and different times and the baseline will therefore be more accurate.
  • Working on a baseline is a good way to familiarise yourself with the levels.

Please contact me with any questions and I’ll do my best to answer them.

 
 

How to record Intensive Interaction

This week I looked at the statistics for my blog and noticed that the intensive interaction recording sheet post was the most popular.  I have therefore decided to post the full system for recording that we are now using at Woolley Wood.  This system was approved by the OFSTED inspector during the recent inspection in March 2015 and is being used in every classroom.
My requirements for an intensive interaction recording system are as follows:

  • Simple and easy to understand and explain to others
  • Straightforward to use in the classroom
  • Accurate

After a few unsuccessful attempts I developed the current system which is based on the engagement profile work of Graham Firth and Mark Barber.  This system involves seven levels of engagement and is a useful tool to assess a learner’s communication ability.
Over the next few weeks I will post the forms that I have designed for taking a baseline, recording sessions and charting progress against the baseline.  For the system to be accurate it is important that all the staff share the same understanding of what the seven levels mean.  This is the purpose of my 6 week course – to familiarise the staff with the engagement profile and the recording system and then mentor the staff in it’s practical use in the classroom.
The first PDF that I include with this post introduces the seven levels.  On my course staff have the opportunity to watch videos and explore the levels together in order to reach a shared understanding and the attached sheet is the first sheet they receive on the course.
The small text by each level is taken from Graham Firth’s and Mark Barbers original document.  The large italic questions is my way of simplifying the assessment.  I’ve found that it takes time for trainees to understand what each level means so I designed these as a kind of flow chart to help trainees find the correct level.  This might require more explanation too but you can give it a go.  First watch a video of an intensive interaction and then ask each question in turn starting at (ENCOUNTER).  When there is no longer ‘more than that’ you have reached the communication level of the learner.
Without the course or similar opportunity for staff to get together and work out what the levels mean there may be issues with accuracy and I’m very interested to know how clear this is to you.  Please use the comments section to ask questions and I will endeavour to answer them.
My aim over the next few weeks is to post the baseline form, sessions record form and progress chart along with instructions and (perhaps) even a video explaining how to use them.
Let me know if its all useful :0)
 
Engagement Profile Explanation
Next time: How to take a Baseline
Graham Firth and Mark Barber’s original document can be found here
http://www.leedspft.nhs.uk/_documentbank/A_Framework_for_Recognising_Attainment_in_II_2011.pdf

Parents Q&A

Every Tuesday at Woolley Wood School parents have the opportunity to attend an intensive interaction training session.  Having worked with parents on a number of occasions I have found that there are a few questions that keeping coming up and I thought that it might be of benefit to write a blog post detailing the questions and my answers:
 
My son started to do naughty things to see if we would copy him.  What should I do?
We need a responsive approach like intensive interaction because our habit as human beings can be to lead, direct and strive for goals.  This habit often gets in the way of seeing and accepting things as they actually are.  When we think that a behaviour is naughty we first have to ask ourselves a few questions.  Why is this a ‘naughty’ behaviour and what will the consequences be if the child continues or if I join in?  After all, this behaviour is what the child finds enjoyable and meaningful and having to say “no” all the time isn’t the best strategy for developing positive relationships.
This question related to a situation where the child was pulling all the clothes out of a drawer and throwing them on the floor.  Clearly the parent was thinking that they would have to tidy them all up afterwards which, depending on how much energy the mother had, could well have been the final straw.  When we question ourselves about this however we might find that we have drawn the boundaries arbitrarily and that in this situation throwing things on the floor might not be so bad after all. So we have to question our definition ‘naughty’ and whether the behaviour is so’ naughty’ that we have to deny the child’s behaviour and stop it.
The parent in question just joined in and reported that she actually really enjoyed herself and felt quite liberated, enjoying her son’s company in a new way for over an hour.  After playing with the drawer the child then tried to flush all the clothes down the toilet and the mother said she had to call it a day there.  Of course we have to draw the line somewhere and this will be different for different people in different situations.   In the above example, the mothers relaxing of her ‘rules’ with the clothes afforded her a new kind of interaction with her son…
What do I do if my son/daughter starts doing something dangerous? Do I have to join in with that behaviour too?
The short answer is no, you don’t have to join in with behaviour that you think might be dangerous.  There is a time for being responsive and a time for leading and directing.  Is it a good time for joining in if you are crossing the road with your child and he/she starts to dance in the middle of the road when there is a car coming?  Or if they pick up a sharp knife? Clearly not.  It seems that our habit is to lead and direct and then choose to be responsive at certain times (this misconception leads school to only do intensive interaction at set times).  I think that this is the wrong way round.  I teach the people on my course to become responsive first and then choose when to lead.  This means that you are mindful and available for responsive interaction all the time and then you decide to lead at certain times, for example when you cross the road or when you chop the vegetables.
I have found that a common misunderstanding among trainees is that they think will have to be responsive all the time.  As a parent this is simply impossible.  The role of parent is full of times when we have to stop the child doing what they want to, for their safety or health or because we want to teach new behaviours.  One parent explained to me last week that they spent a year and a half showing their son how to hold a spoon.  And now he can feed himself.  So we don’t have to be responsive all the time.  I do however think that being responsive should be our ‘default setting’ and then we should mindfully choose to lead and direct when needed.  I accept that this is easier said than done :0)
These sort of ‘what if’ questions usually come up right at the beginning after the first explanation or video.  Intensive interaction is an approach, one of many in fact, that may be of benefit to your child.  There is a time for leading and teaching (how is a child going to learn sign language for example) but for the fundamentals of communication we need to work responsively to create a ‘social playground’ for a child to investigate and explore, much like they would do with a physical playground.  So to begin with we can add intensive interaction to our repertoire and find a time of day to try it out.
My knees hurt from crawling/jumping/kneeling/chasing (delete as appropriate).  I can’t keep doing this, what can I do?
While you might not be in control of the child’s behaviour and (with a responsive approach like ‘Do What You See’ you are going to have to follow that behaviour) you are in control of the environment.  Part of the art of intensive interaction is how the practitioner creates an environment within which the child can do whatever they want and the resulting behaviour is acceptable for the practitioner, the environment and any other children.  For example, if you decided to take the child to a room full of shelves of priceless cut glass family heirlooms, you would probably not feel like ‘Doing What You See’ and you would have to stop affirming and validating the child’s behaviour as you stop them destroying the priceless objects.  Similarly if you took your child to a posh a la carte silver service restaurant you would probably be telling them to sit still and be quiet much more than if you took them to a noisy child friendly cafe.  You have chosen an environment where it is much more likely that you are going to have to lead and direct.  If however you took a child to a soft play room with nothing but cushioned surfaces and no objects then it is likely that you could Do What You See without restraint.
So the choice of environment can affect how much we feel we can respond, affirm and validate a child’s behaviour, an attitude that is central to intensive interaction.  To one of the parents who asked the above question I asked whether she could keep the interaction in carpeted rooms, perhaps by using a stair gate to keep the interaction upstairs.  If the stairs are free to be used and we don’t want a child to use them then we have to block the child’s behaviour but if the stairs are inaccessible then the child may work it our for himself.
 
For more information about ‘Do What You See’, a simple starting point for intensive interaction, click here
 

Parents Q&A

Every Tuesday at Woolley Wood School parents have the opportunity to attend an intensive interaction training session.  Having worked with parents on a number of occasions I have found that there are a few questions that keeping coming up and I thought that it might be of benefit to write a blog post detailing the questions and my answers:
 
My son started to do naughty things to see if we would copy him.  What should I do?
We need a responsive approach like intensive interaction because our habit as human beings can be to lead, direct and strive for goals.  This habit often gets in the way of seeing and accepting things as they actually are.  When we think that a behaviour is naughty we first have to ask ourselves a few questions.  Why is this a ‘naughty’ behaviour and what will the consequences be if the child continues or if I join in?  After all, this behaviour is what the child finds enjoyable and meaningful and having to say “no” all the time isn’t the best strategy for developing positive relationships.
This question related to a situation where the child was pulling all the clothes out of a drawer and throwing them on the floor.  Clearly the parent was thinking that they would have to tidy them all up afterwards which, depending on how much energy the mother had, could well have been the final straw.  When we question ourselves about this however we might find that we have drawn the boundaries arbitrarily and that in this situation throwing things on the floor might not be so bad after all. So we have to question our definition ‘naughty’ and whether the behaviour is so’ naughty’ that we have to deny the child’s behaviour and stop it.
The parent in question just joined in and reported that she actually really enjoyed herself and felt quite liberated, enjoying her son’s company in a new way for over an hour.  After playing with the drawer the child then tried to flush all the clothes down the toilet and the mother said she had to call it a day there.  Of course we have to draw the line somewhere and this will be different for different people in different situations.   In the above example, the mothers relaxing of her ‘rules’ with the clothes afforded her a new kind of interaction with her son…
What do I do if my son/daughter starts doing something dangerous? Do I have to join in with that behaviour too?
The short answer is no, you don’t have to join in with behaviour that you think might be dangerous.  There is a time for being responsive and a time for leading and directing.  Is it a good time for joining in if you are crossing the road with your child and he/she starts to dance in the middle of the road when there is a car coming?  Or if they pick up a sharp knife? Clearly not.  It seems that our habit is to lead and direct and then choose to be responsive at certain times (this misconception leads school to only do intensive interaction at set times).  I think that this is the wrong way round.  I teach the people on my course to become responsive first and then choose when to lead.  This means that you are mindful and available for responsive interaction all the time and then you decide to lead at certain times, for example when you cross the road or when you chop the vegetables.
I have found that a common misunderstanding among trainees is that they think will have to be responsive all the time.  As a parent this is simply impossible.  The role of parent is full of times when we have to stop the child doing what they want to, for their safety or health or because we want to teach new behaviours.  One parent explained to me last week that they spent a year and a half showing their son how to hold a spoon.  And now he can feed himself.  So we don’t have to be responsive all the time.  I do however think that being responsive should be our ‘default setting’ and then we should mindfully choose to lead and direct when needed.  I accept that this is easier said than done :0)
These sort of ‘what if’ questions usually come up right at the beginning after the first explanation or video.  Intensive interaction is an approach, one of many in fact, that may be of benefit to your child.  There is a time for leading and teaching (how is a child going to learn sign language for example) but for the fundamentals of communication we need to work responsively to create a ‘social playground’ for a child to investigate and explore, much like they would do with a physical playground.  So to begin with we can add intensive interaction to our repertoire and find a time of day to try it out.
My knees hurt from crawling/jumping/kneeling/chasing (delete as appropriate).  I can’t keep doing this, what can I do?
While you might not be in control of the child’s behaviour and (with a responsive approach like ‘Do What You See’ you are going to have to follow that behaviour) you are in control of the environment.  Part of the art of intensive interaction is how the practitioner creates an environment within which the child can do whatever they want and the resulting behaviour is acceptable for the practitioner, the environment and any other children.  For example, if you decided to take the child to a room full of shelves of priceless cut glass family heirlooms, you would probably not feel like ‘Doing What You See’ and you would have to stop affirming and validating the child’s behaviour as you stop them destroying the priceless objects.  Similarly if you took your child to a posh a la carte silver service restaurant you would probably be telling them to sit still and be quiet much more than if you took them to a noisy child friendly cafe.  You have chosen an environment where it is much more likely that you are going to have to lead and direct.  If however you took a child to a soft play room with nothing but cushioned surfaces and no objects then it is likely that you could Do What You See without restraint.
So the choice of environment can affect how much we feel we can respond, affirm and validate a child’s behaviour, an attitude that is central to intensive interaction.  To one of the parents who asked the above question I asked whether she could keep the interaction in carpeted rooms, perhaps by using a stair gate to keep the interaction upstairs.  If the stairs are free to be used and we don’t want a child to use them then we have to block the child’s behaviour but if the stairs are inaccessible then the child may work it our for himself.
 
For more information about ‘Do What You See’, a simple starting point for intensive interaction, click here
 

Intensive Interaction in Adult Services

In September 2015 I accepted a second Intensive Interaction Co-ordinator position, this time for the Hesley Group, an adult autism service based south of Doncaster. I have a contract for 1 day per week for a year and my aim is to develop a sustainable community of practice at the Hesley Village, the companys central site.
The task doesn’t seem straightforward. The village has over 600 members of staff with the care staff split into three shift based teams. There are over 40 adults with autism each of which is assigned a key worker, speech and language therapist, occupational therapist and vocational team member. There is a management hierarchy comprising of a team leader, deputy care manager and care manager all of whom are involved directly in the resident’s care.
A sustainable community of practice needs to involve all these people. Staff from every level of the hierarchy must be able to access training and mentoring as well as having a voice around the table so that the development of the service is owned by the community.
Questions raised included… How do we offer a course that requires regular attendance in a shift based work environment? Should we be changing the practice of a small group of staff or raising awareness of II across the entire staff team? How can we offer mentoring to management? How do we make sure that stories of success are not lost?
In answer to these questions, our initial model is as follows: I will work with 4 residents from one care managers area for 24 weeks. I will visit the resident’s homes and model intensive interaction, providing half hour mentoring sessions to the key worker and other on-shift staff with one mentoring session for other staff drawn from a pool of SLT’s, OT’s, care managers and vocational staff. This means the frontline staff will have the most time with me while therapy and management staff will still have 3 practical mentoring sessions and all the learning tasks associated with this teaching.
During handover in the afternoon I intend to deliver a classroom based session with time for explanation of principles and sharing of video.
I’ll let you know how we get on in. :O)