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For Educational Settings

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We are looking for educational settings to take part in the INTERACT study. The study is looking at an intervention to support communication skills in children and young people with profound and multiple learning disabilities (PMLD).

Intensive Interaction is development-based intervention designed to teach the fundamentals of communication. During an Intensive Interaction session, the practitioner works with the child/young person, responding to what they do by imitating and joining in. Although there is some research to suggest that Intensive Interaction can be beneficial to individuals with PMLD, further research is needed to understand how educational settings can use Intensive Interaction to support children and young people with PMLD. 

Interested in learning more about the trial? 

Which settings can take part?

  • Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) educational settings or mainstream educational settings with SEND units around Great Britain

  • Settings with capacity and willingness to agree to the requirements of participation outlined in this information sheet and Memorandum of Understanding

  • Settings with at least 5 children/young people meeting the eligibility criteria:

    • Aged 3 to 25 and identified as having PMLD;

    • Expected to remain at the setting for the duration of the trial;

    • Parent/guardian willing to consent/act as a consultee for the child/young person to take part and willing to attend training, continue with the intervention at home and complete questionnaires for the study.

  • Settings are not eligible to take part  if staff have recently been formally trained in Intensive Interaction (within the past 12 months.)

Will our setting receive the Intensive Interaction intervention?

If you decide to take part, your setting will be randomly assigned to either the Intensive Interaction intervention or to the important control arm, care as usual. Randomly assigning which settings receive the intervention is essential, as it is the best way to find out the impact of the intervention. This type of research is called a randomised controlled trial.

If your setting is assigned to the group using Intensive Interaction, we will organise for you to receive training (more information below). If your setting is assigned to the care as usual group, you will still receive the training, but in the following academic year, in the meantime, you will continue to provide care and education as usual. The children and young people involved will receive all other treatment or support as usual regardless of allocation.


What will the Intensive Interaction training look like? 

The research team will provide training and ongoing support to a speech and language therapist (SLT) supporting  your setting, should your setting be randomly assigned to deliver Intensive Interaction. SLTs might be employed by the NHS, Local Authority or Privately. If your setting does not have a SLT available, the research team can provide this element. The SLT will train and support interventionists in your setting (e.g.  teachers, TAs, or SENCOs), as well as parents/carers, who will implement the intervention with eligible children/young people. It is up to you to determine how many interventionists will be required per child as this will depend on factors such as part-time members of staff. 

Training stage 1: The SLT will receive the equivalent of 1 day of online training and 1 day of supervision. The training will consist of around four short modules and prior training will be recognised.  SLTs will be trained in Intensive Interaction and provided with guidance and materials to use to train and support the interventionists and parents/carers. 

Training stage 2: The trained SLT will provide interventionists in your setting and parents/carers with 2 half days of training. This can be delivered flexibly, online or face to face or hybrid and is designed so that parent/carers and setting staff receive the same training. It will cover the basics of Intensive Interaction.

Following this, the SLT will provide up to 4 days of ongoing support at each site. This will be delivered flexible, online or face to face or hybrid, according to need. The ongoing support is designed to build confidence, skill and fluency in using Intensive Interaction in that setting. This will be provided weekly for the first 4 weeks and then monthly thereafter.


What will delivering Intensive Interaction involve?

Intensive Interaction is one way of focusing on quality in everyday interactions between communication partners and children and young people with PMLD. Intensive Interaction is about a particular way of interacting during activities. The activity can be pretty much anything that the person is taking part in. We might use Intensive Interaction to make changes to how we communicate. We might use a higher tone of voice to make us more interesting to the person. We might use Intensive Interaction to respond to the things that people are doing and to follow their lead. For example, we might repeat sounds or body movements that the person uses.

Communication partners will often read meaning into actions that the young person with PMLD makes. For example, if the child/young person looks in the general direction of a toy, we might interpret as them indicating that they are wanting to play with that toy. Using Intensive Interaction, we try to use timing and rhythm so that we can help the person predict what is going to happen and so that both people are having fun and getting involved in interactions in ways that make sense to them.

More information about Intensive Interaction can be found in this factsheet.

Following training, settings should deliver Intensive Interaction for a minimum of 18 weeks, with the duration of each session directed by the interventionist in a way that is responsive to the child/young person’s needs - likely to be around 5-15 minutes.

Intensive Interaction should be embedded into daily activities; sessions should occur at least once each day the child/young person attends your setting. We ask for interventionists and parents/carers to complete a diary to record the number and duration of sessions delivered for each child/young person.

What will taking part in this research involve?

If you decide to take part, we would like your setting to complete the below activities. This is regardless of whether your setting is randomly assigned to deliver the Intensive Interaction intervention or assigned to the control arm.

The research team will support you throughout the study and will provide guidance for each activity. We request that you nominate a supporting staff member to act as a lead point of contact for study.


  • Distribute parent/guardian information and either an online or paper (depending on your preference) consent/consultee form to the parents/guardians of all eligible children/young people. Collect in any paper consent/consultee forms returned.

  • Provide the research team with relevant details about participating children/young people, whose parent/guardians have provided consent, and about relevant school staff (i.e. each child/young person’s main teacher or the teacher who knows them best and the interventionist, if allocated to deliver Intensive Interaction)

  • Capture three short video recordings of each participating child/young person completing an assessment of communication opportunities with their associated teacher

  • Relevant nominated teachers will complete online questionnaires for participating children/young people

    • Provide ratings of cognitive development, communication and social interaction, environmental interaction, and behaviour

    • Report whether any changes have been made to child/young person's education plan.

  • Relevant staff will be asked to complete and return questionnaires about your setting’s ‘usual’ practice and experience of the INTERACT study and consider participating in interviews, focus groups and/or observations for the study

  • Parents/guardians will also be asked to complete questionnaires (online or via phone)

    • The research team will communicate directly with parent/guardians using contact details provided on the parent/guardian consent/consultee form.

What are the possible benefits of taking part?

  •  Participation in an important research study that will provide information about the effectiveness of Intensive Interaction for children and young people with PMLD. Using Intensive Interaction may help children/young people to communicate more effectively.

  •   Each participating setting will receive £350 after the final (52 week) follow-up for the study. 

What if there is a problem?

If you have a concern or question about any aspect of this study, you can speak to the research team ( who will do their best to answer your questions.


Then check out our FORUM where you can interact with other Educational Settings taking part in the study 

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