The Toby Henderson Trust - The Doorway to Early Action in Autism

Intensive Interaction play room sessions

Early intervention – Why?

At The Toby Henderson Trust we believe that early intervention reaps huge benefits for not only the child who has autism but for the whole family. It is widely recognised that every child with autism is unique and so have a unique profile of strengths and needs and require intervention services and teaching approaches that are sensitive to these needs. That’s why the strategies and approaches we employ in our intensive interaction playroom sessions are always tailored completely individually to your child.  Strategies that worked for teaching your other children to remain seated at the dinner table, to play appropriately with a toy, or to say words simply might work as well for your child with autism. In the same way, intervention programs that are generic – rather than autism specialised – are less likely to be effective for your child.

 At The Toby Henderson Trust we are specialists in early intervention.

Early intervention – How?

The process begins with a centre visit to discuss yours and your family’s needs. You will be asked to provide some basic contact information and you will be given a registration form which we will ask you to take away, complete and return to us. You will be given a short tour of our building and be shown into our intensive interaction playrooms. Should a session be in process, we will usually ask the parents/carers of the child in the session if they would be willing for you also to watch for a short time. This is the ideal way to observe and experience at first hand how this approach might work for you and your child.

We have 2 distraction free playrooms with observation rooms attached for parents and invited professionals to observe and learn from the work we do with the child. The configuration and dynamic of these rooms is taken from the Son Rise Institute in Masachusetts USA, as experienced by Lesley Henderson with her son, Toby, in 1999.  Microphones link the two areas of these specially designed playroom settings for carers to hear clearly what is happening within the rooms and polycarbonate mirrors are sited opposite the 2 way observation mirrors to ensure visibility into all areas.  A shelf for toys and resources runs around the room at a high level and is individually set up for each child’s session, using the items most likely to engage and motivate that particular child, immediately increasing the opportunity for interaction and joint attention.

Sessions usually last for approximately forty five minutes and are offered on weekly regular appointment basis. We will continue to work with your child for one year from the date of your child’s first initial appointment with us.

In the playrooms we explore the potential of a child to help us discover their personal doorway to communication and in doing so develop individual approaches and processes to enable the child to connect successfully with the world around them. Through harnessing their motivations and celebrating their efforts to connect and communicate (however small), we break through their barriers to communication and interaction.

All staff are trained in using a variety of approaches including PECS (picture exchange communication system). When attending a session, your child will be working intensively with at least one member of our team – however, if PECS is being introduced, this involves 2 members of staff being present in the playroom with your child throughout the first 2 stages of implementation, one in the role of communication partner and one in the role of silent partner.

Early intervention – Results?

We believe that any successful early intervention program has at least four benefits:

  1.  It will provide your child with instruction that will build on his or her strengths to teach new skills, improve behaviours, and support areas of weakness.
  2. It will provide you with knowledge and information that will help you better understand your child’s behaviour and needs.
  3.  It will offer resources, support, and training that will enable you to support, play and work with your child more effectively.
  4. It will improve outcomes for your child.

Our early intervention consistently achieves all of these outcomes and more.