At the end of this week I’ll be spending 2 days in St Petersburg, sharing the theory and practice of Intensive Interaction with a group of teachers and social workers. I’m thrilled to have been invited to do this – and not just because it will mean seeing St Petersburg in all the midsummer glory of its White Nights Festival.
At its best, Intensive Interaction breaks down all sorts of barriers – of understanding, engagement, language – and I believe it is a truly international approach. When we allow ourselves to enter the world of the person we are supporting, their profound learning disability becomes far less important than their abilities and we begin to notice their movements, their sounds, the rhythms of their breathing. These are the things we can use to engage and understand each other and spoken language becomes unimportant. I had a very positive experience of this at last year’s Chromosome 18 European Conference in Rome; after struggling with simultaneous translation involving 4 languages during my presentation, it was a relief to move on to the joy of demonstrating Intensive Interaction ‘hands-on’ with children for whom conventional language was not important.
Caritas, the organisation which has invited me to St Petersburg, describes itself as working ‘with all people in need, regardless of their ethnicity, nationality, religion, ability and social status’. In a city which has suffered a recent, violent, random attack, Caritas’ statement of inclusivity is inspiring. I look forward to Intensive Interaction doing its bit for international cohesion.
Director of Training