Total communication: sharing ideas and innovations

12 July 2018

Delegates trying out experiential art

Tune in fully to the child and where they’re at. Less is more.

These were the take-out messages of the Total Communication Seminar we held on Friday 6 July 2018.

Education and health professionals came to CPotential and Woodstar School to hear about a range of exciting approaches to support children achieve their potential in speech, language and communication.


How Intensive Interaction works

Dave Hewett

Our keynote speaker, Dave Hewett, the leading exponent of Intensive Interaction, told us about the development, principles and practices of this approach.

He explained that he and his team developed it from academic research into how babies and young children are hardwired to learn the  ‘fundamentals of communication’, including enjoying being with another person, taking turns, using and understanding eye contact and facial expression, and using their voice.

Dave also presented a series of videos showing how the Intensive Interactive practitioner works with children who have not gained these skills and may be ‘difficult to reach’. The teacher ‘listens’ with all their senses to totally tune into the child and their world so that, gradually, the child gains more communication skills. The difference it can make for both the child and their family’s quality of life was very impressive.


Communication aids

Kathryn Stowell


Kathryn Stowell, Head of Outreach and Augmentative & Alternative Communication at CENMAC, presented an overview of the wide range of interactive hi-tech communication aids (including switches, apps and eye gaze software) now available. She also explained how CENMAC loans aids to schools to support individual children’s development and assists school teams with assessment and support for their pupils.


Behaviour as communication, Lego therapy and experiential art

Kerri Morgan


In her presentation about behaviour as communication, Kerri Morgan, Highly Specialist Speech and Language Therapist at Woodstar School, gave tips on how people working with disabled children should tailor their own behaviour carefully to meet to the needs of each child.


Then Kerri explained how Lego Therapy can be used to encourage children to learn and develop a range of communication skills such as  attention, expressive language and working memory while having fun making a simple Lego model together.


Delegates trying out experiential art

Finally, Woodstar School specialist teaching assistant Anne Onwusiri gave a presentation about how experiential art gives children, especially those who have difficulty expressing themselves verbally, the opportunity to use art and craft materials to express themselves and their personalities.  “There’s no right or wrong answer,” Anne said, “It’s all about the experience of doing.”

This was seconded by the delegates who all had a go at the two activities.


  • We plan to run more seminars to share expertise with education and health professionals in the 2018-19 academic year. If you’d like to register your interest, please email us.

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