Play2Talk is a newly developed Naturalistic Developmental Behavioural Intervention (NDBI) based on a mix of key components from 3 well researched therapy models: Pivotal Response Therapy (PRT), Early Start Denver Model (ESDM) and DIR Floortime. It focuses on developing naturalistic, play based activities and routines to support children aged 0-5 with Autism and other developmental challenges to learn to communicate, engage and interact with others whilst learning new skills.

There are numerous models of intervention for children experiencing early delays with language and social skills, so it is important to focus on those that are evidence based and grounded in science. Play2Talk is part of a group of well researched approaches to supporting young children with social communication and developmental delays collectively referred to as NDBIs.

Currently NDBI models are viewed as the most effective in helping children to learn to communicate, interact and play and our preliminary research findings have supported this.

In our initial parent coaching study, we found that coaching parents to use these strategies at home had a positive impact on parental emotional wellbeing. This was directly linked to child progress (particularly with speech) and children made fast gains with their communication skills. Play2Talk input also supported children to build attention and social interaction skills, alongside showing a positive link to improved sensory and emotional regulation.

Play2Talk differs from traditional treatments for children with developmental challenges as it does not advocate an intensive programme of therapist delivered intervention. Our model is focused on a parent mediated approach where parents are the key partners in their child’s therapy.

For more information on Play2Talk visit:


NDBI Approaches

There are a number of well evidenced models within the field of NDBI. At Blue Sky Autism Project we have training and certification in the following approaches. We use our knowledge and experience of these therapies to support our delivery of Play2Talk, which is individualised for each child:

What is Pivotal Response Therapy?

PRT is an Applied Behaviour Analysis approach that focuses on child choice, child initiation and motivation as being key components to effective therapy. It is regarded by experts as the most ‘child friendly’ version of ABA and has one of the strongest evidence bases.

PRT was first established in the 1980s by Drs Lynne and Robert Koegel. Robert had been an assistant psychologist working with Lovaas on his initial studies and Lynne is a speech and language pathologist. Pivotal Response Treatment (PRT) is one of the best studied and validated behavioural treatments for autism. Its goals include the development of communication, language and positive social behaviours and relief from disruptive self-stimulatory behaviours.

Rather than target individual behaviours, the PRT therapist targets “pivotal” areas of a child’s development. These include motivation, response to multiple cues, and the initiation of social interactions. The philosophy is that, by targeting these critical areas, PRT will produce broad improvements across other areas of social skills, communication, behaviour and academic skill building. Motivation strategies are an important part of the PRT approach. These emphasize “natural” reinforcement. For example, if a child makes a meaningful attempt to request, say, a stuffed animal, the reward is the stuffed animal – not a candy or other unrelated reward.

What is the Early Start Denver Model?

PRT strategies are a core component of the Early Start Denver Model early intervention approach, which has been shown through recent research to have a significant effect on early development for young children with autism.

ESDM was developed by Professors Sally Rogers and Gillian Dawson at the MIND institute. Drawn from the fields of developmental psychology and ABA, the ESDM program uses a developmental curriculum that helps to inform the skills to be taught at any given time and  a set of one-to-one teaching procedures used to deliver content. It is heavily focused on parent training. Parents choose the objectives that are important to them – and are active participants in the treatment. ESDM is not tied to a specific delivery setting, but can be delivered by therapy teams and/or parents in either a clinic setting or the child’s home.


There are hundreds of studies that have been undertaken into the efficacy of NDBI models. Recent research has shown that 95% of children beginning PRT or ESDM before they are 3.5 years old will develop functional verbal communication.

Our own recent pilot studies looking at the impact of Play2Talk also supported previous findings with regard to the efficacy of NDBI approaches on the development of verbal communication. Currently our studies are in press, but will published in full in early 2021

For an overview of NDBI models, click here

For an overview of the most recent research click here

For more information related to Pivotal Response Treatment research at the University of California, Santa Barbara, visit:

For more information on ESDM visit:

For an overview of recent research on both PRT and ESDM click here


For an outline of recent research publications related to Pivotal Response Treatment®
Additional information on PRT® as an evidence-based practice and the PRT empirical research support can be found by clicking on the following links: