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Learning Disabilities Speech & Language Therapy

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Training for Carers

All our face to face training is currently cancelled due to Covid 19.

We are currently reviewing how the training is delivered. You can get involved by completing the survey below.

Training Survey 

Intensive Interaction

Intensive Interaction is an approach to facilitating two-way communication with children and adults with severe or profound learning disabilities and/or autism, who are still at an early stage of communication development. Valuing People Now 2009

We communicate in many different ways such as body language, facial expression, tone of voice and vocalisations of different complexities. The purpose of this communication changes as we develop. In the early stages communication is unintentional but with the right interactions children learn the skills to develop and sustain behaviours such as smiling, looking and vocalizations to engage in interaction and social contact. These foundations are the scaffolding to more complex forms of communication and are known as the Fundamentals of Communication.

Fundamentals of Communication

  • enjoying being with another person

  • developing the ability to attend to that person

  • concentration and attention span

  • learning to do sequences of activity with another person

  • taking turns in exchanges of behaviour

  • sharing personal space

  • using and understanding eye contacts

  • using and understanding facial expressions

  • using and understanding physical contacts

  • using and understanding other non-verbal communications

  • vocalising and using vocalisations meaningfully (including speech)

  • learning to regulate and control arousal levels

  • (probably) the development of neural links

  • emotional and well-being stuff

Intensive interaction focusses on developing these Fundamentals of Communication using natural interactions in everyday life and is based on research about parent and child interaction. This person centred approach can be used by parents, carers, support staff, teachers and anyone coming into contact with the child or adult with learning disabilities.

Basic Techniques

  • Tuning-in to cues and signals of the child or adult

  • Enjoyment and respect

  • Holding back, observing and waiting- ‘Less is more’

  • Allowing the person to lead, 'go first’ or take the first turn- this will allow them to make things happen and explore different communicative behaviours.

  • Responding in a variety of ways including joining-in,

  • Being relaxed and unhurried

  • Pausing

  • Timing responses

  • Positioning and available look

The only rule is that:

  • The interaction stops when the person has had enough

Sources of help and information

Printable FAQ Document

Downloadable/ Printable FAQ document

Printable Families Handout 

Printable Families Handout

Printable BILD Factsheet 

Printable BILD Factsheet


Eating and Drinking

Eating, drinking and swallow problems (Dysphagia) pose significant health risks to people with Learning Disabilities and can be linked to:

Chest infection   Constipation    Dehydration    Weight loss   Malnutrition    Choking

People with a Learning Disability can have difficulties with their eating, drinking and swallowing. There are many reasons and causes for these difficulties and people may experience:

  • Problems with chewing

  • Difficulty controlling food and drink in the mouth

  • Difficulty and discomfort swallowing food and drink

  • Sensation of food getting stuck

  • Aspiration- food and drink entering the lungs

  • Frequent coughing and/or throat clearing when eating and drinking

  • A wet or gurgly voice during or after eating/drinking

  • Lengthy mealtimes

  • Watering eyes when eating/drinking

  • Refusing food or drink

  • Distress at mealtimes

  • Choking or severe coughing

The Speech and Language Therapist can assess and help manage eating, drinking and swallowing difficulties as part of a multidisciplinary team. We work closely with Physiotherapist, Community Nurses and Dieticians. The person with Learning Disabilities, their carers and families are fully involved in the decision making process.  Together we will agree on a Mealtime Plan which will include information such as food preparation, level of support and assistance, any special equipment needed and specific advice for safer eating and drinking.

Printable Guide to Food boosting for pureed diet

Printable Guide to Food boosting for pureed diets

Printable Guide to Pacing while eating

Printable Guide to Pacing while eating