Starting Monday with the typical tedious and protracted tube and train journey, I demonstrated all the directional skills of a tourist in the height of summer. But, today I was released from driving a desk to attend Us in a Bus training at Gemserv’s offices.
It is important to Gemserv’s people that we are involved with a charity that makes a life enhancing difference to the people it supports, so this was an opportunity to find out more about what they do and how they do it. We already know their work provides specialist support to people with profound learning disabilities and complex needs and being able to join the training for carers, family and Us in a Bus staff was a privilege. Janet the trainer shared her knowledge to explore Intensive Interaction and how it can make a profound difference to people’s lives:
• Intensive Interaction is used to encourage people with profound learning disabilities or autism, to make the most of their fundamental communication skills – and to use those skills to build meaningful connections with the social world. In schools, in families and in a range of adult services, it can be used to combat isolation and open up opportunities.
What I learnt is that Intensive Interaction is a technique Us in a Bus use that centres on noticing, and responding to, people in a meaningful way – especially where they have solitary self-involved behaviours. It’s about celebrating the inner world of another person and tailoring our responses so that they are meaningful to that person. As an example, a child might appear to be ‘misbehaving’ in a way that you might be thinking ‘Why can’t that parent control that child?’ However, the child might be on the Autistic spectrum, dealing with sensory issues and be unable to clearly communicate what is wrong. The loud sounds, for example in a shopping centre, may have triggered a sensory overload that became physically painful and distressing, leading to an extreme response from the child. Their inner world and conflict does not reflect our own experiences as a neurotypical person. It is in these moments that Intensive Interaction can be used as a tool to reach the person, at their communication level, to ease their anxiety. It was an interesting training session and one that has helped me look at people with more acceptance and greater understanding.
Gemserv’s donations and support mean that Us in a Bus’s vital funds can continue to help people who are often isolated and who find communicating with the world (and the people in it) a huge challenge. It’s at the heart of Gemserv to make a difference and for our people to play a leading role in tackling social challenges. We are delighted to have found a charity to work with that shares the same values.
Our staff value the connection to a charity that serves the community and it is important to them that they can contribute through fundraising, volunteering and by providing some of our office space to support this training and the amazing people that attended it.