by Sophia Santhi Rajendran, Occupational Therapist, Sisters of Charity of Jesus and Mary Services, St Mary’s, Delvin


I started reading this book as soon as I saw ‘sensory integration’ in the title and Jane Horwood as paediatric occupational therapist with special interest in the use of sensory integration. ‘Using Intensive Interaction’ itself implies the importance of interaction skills to practise while communicating with autistic children. The author clearly explains the use of body language, in guiding us how to create an autism-friendly environment. She explains the different sensory experience of autistic children. She states challenging behaviour as distressed behaviour, which autistic children express due to stress or sensory overload. The repetitive behaviour and avoidance happens due to sensory overload, as coping strategies.

‘Sensory distress and distortion’—these chapters clearly illustrate the source of distress and creating an environment that suits the needs of a child with autism.

The emotional overload chapter states emotional stress and different ways to avoid or reduce emotional overload. Communicating with autistic children with clear messages—this is explained with ideas of timetables (week, day and year), which can be a great asset to teachers and parents for scheduling.

A day in the life of Mike—a case study—explains how a day starts, distress confronted during the day, and how parents, teachers and professionals should interpret these situations.

Overall, the author emphasises that distress behaviours are the result of sensory overload and she explains how this can be avoided or reduced. This book’s subject is presented simply and it gives parents, teachers and professionals a practical knowledge of intensive interaction and sensory integration.

USING INTENSIVE INTERACTION AND SENSORY INTEGRATION: A handbook for those who support people with severe autistic spectrum disorder, by Phoebe Caldwell with Jane Horwood. London, Jessica Kingsley Publishers (2008). Paperback. ISBN 978-1-84310-616-5.