School practitioners’ perceptions of the impact of Intensive Interaction on the emotional wellbeing of pupils with severe intellectual disabilities and autism

Bhogal, Karam (2023). School practitioners’ perceptions of the impact of Intensive Interaction on the emotional wellbeing of pupils with severe intellectual disabilities and autism. University of Birmingham. Ed.D.

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Although, people with this dual diagnosis are more likely to have difficulty achieving emotional wellbeing, there is a paucity of research regarding the emotional wellbeing and mental health of this cohort. The study’s four aims were to explore: educational practitioners’ perceptions related to whether interactive style promoted the emotional wellbeing for pupils with autism and SID; how those perceptions are effected through training on recording changes in wellbeing; the practitioner’s perceptions related to their professional responsibility to promote wellbeing; and, to influence policy and practice in the research setting. The eleven practitioners were active teachers and teaching assistants in one special school which was attended by pupils aged 7-19 with intellectual disabilities. This project used semi-structured interviews before and after training on wellbeing to enable the practitioners to create a narrative of their experiences working with their pupils. Reflexive Thematic Analysis was used to create themes which were linked and compared.

The practitioners perceived that using the principles of Intensive Interaction fostered child-centred practice based on a deep understanding of the pupils and developed both trusting relationships and emotional regulation. Amongst the study’s significant findings is the prominent and novel place of relationships based on trust which was understood to be developed by the use of imitation in interactions and being available for the pupils. The study found that the practitioners viewed the promotion of wellbeing as their primary professional responsibility, over and above the promotion of academic progress. After the training, the practitioners’ views had changed in a number of ways. The practitioners’ conceptualisation of wellbeing became broader and included specific components such as safety and security. Additionally, the practitioners’ understanding of regulation changed from seeing it as co-regulation using one-to-one interaction in the moment, to viewing it as self-regulation led by the child over a longer period of time.

The study has a number of implications for practice. Due to the central role of relationships in the findings, the school should ensure consistency of staff in classes and the maintenance of small class sizes. The school should ensure consistency in interactive style, by understanding pupils’ attempts and communication and promoting wellbeing at home and in school. Staff would benefit from being given additional training on interactive strategies and recording levels of pupil wellbeing. The school should increase meaningful staff involvement in school-wide decision making on policy and practice, including teaching assistants.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ed.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ed.D.
Licence: All rights reserved
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Social Sciences
School or Department: School of Education, Department of Disability, Inclusion and Special Needs
Funders: None/not applicable
Subjects: L Education > L Education (General)
L Education > LB Theory and practice of education
L Education > LC Special aspects of education


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