Evidence Based Early Intervention is Crucial

Research indicates that for children experiencing a developmental delay and/ or autism, early intervention should start as soon as possible. Even before a formal diagnosis has been made, very young children can benefit from targeted, play based intervention that focuses on developing engagement, interaction, language and communication.

In addition, well researched early intervention approaches can also lead to improvements in core areas of deficit for children that are showing early signs of/ have an early diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder.

A consistent finding in all research studies looking at early intervention is that different children with developmental challenges and/ or autism respond in different ways to any given treatment or intervention program. Therefore, it is important to note that there is no single program that will suit all children and their families. However, there is substantial evidence to suggest that there are significant short and long term benefits from early, intensive, family-based treatment programs.

At Blue Sky we have chosen to focus on Pivotal Response Therapy (PRT) as this model currently has one of the best evidence bases for supporting toddlers with autism and other developmental challenges. Based on the principles of Applied Behaviour Analysis, PRT is a naturalistic, play based and child led approach that uses intrinsic motivation (rather than external rewards) to support the development of communication, interaction and play skills. In particular, it is one of the best validated approaches for developing language and social skills for young children with an autism diagnosis. Research has shown that when starting PRT before 3.5 years of age, 90 percent of children will develop functional speech.

PRT also has a huge impact on brain development in the early years. Recently studies using Functional MRIs  have shown exciting changes in brain functioning in young children with, or at risk for, autism spectrum conditions after starting PRT based therapy programmes.

All current staff members are certified in PRT and our consultant is currently completing her Train the Trainer certification. We have great links with the Koegel Centre in Santa Barbara and are currently proud to be the first UK based PRT project.

We work using a child centred and child specific approach, where children’s initiation and choice are key and all our therapy and teaching is undertaken through play based activities. Most of all children have fun in their therapy sessions and having fun makes it so much easier to learn!

Alongside PRT, our staff are also trained in a range of other approaches, including behavioural and developmental models (such as ABA/VB (DTT), DIR Floortime, the PEERS social skills model and REPLAYS) which means we can draw on other models as necessary. Our sessions are child led, shared control between adult and child and play based  with a focus on social development, engagement and two way interaction.

We believe strongly in data collection to track progress and monitor targets and goals for each child that we support. We produce regular graphs and progress reports for parents and carers to keep everyone involved and informed.

Parents are partners in their child’s therapy with us and we believe strongly in empowering parents to better understand their child’s strengths and challenges and deliver evidence based, fun, play based therapy within everyday interactions with their child at home.