6 February 2023

When you discover your child has autism or communication challenges, it can be a very lonely place as a parent – you want to do everything you can to help your child thrive.

We were keen to avoid some the pressured and reward based treatments out there (e.g. we were keen to avoid the treatments where kids are continuously given sweets in exchange for changing their behaviour; we were keen to avoid treatments where the child is physically forced to change by being held down; we wanted to avoid treatments where the therapist presents a stony face if the child doesn’t do as it’s expected to.) Our research showed that while those pressured treatments can show quick results, we have heard from older autistic kids that they felt these intensive treatments placed incredible pressure on them as kids, making them feel traumatised and resulted in them needing to stim more. Those kids also grew up to lose trust in their parents because they blamed their parents for putting them in situations where they were physically held down and pressured to change in such a non-caring way. After speaking to a couple of providers of those intensive pressured treatments we decided against them.

We were so relieved to have found Blue Sky. Blue Sky use play to encourage communication. Blue Sky are just as ambitious as the pressured treatments but without the intensive pressure that is placed on the child. Blue Sky created ambitious goals for our daughter and worked hard to help her reach those goals. Our daughter gets 1-1 “play to talk” therapy sessions three times a week (myself or my partner sit in on those sessions.) Our child absolutely loves going to Blue Sky. As a result of her sessions she communicates more, makes more eye contact and it’s growing her confidence and relationship with us.

Blue Sky use humane, joyful ways to develop communication (eg similar to Greenspan floor play, Hanen type More Than Words type play, Pivotal Response Therapy – the kind of stuff NHS speech therapists recommend for autism.) Blue Sky have their own NDBI model which works very well for my child. They care about what toys my child likes and use those toys in their exercises to boost her communication … they make the effort to obtain stickers and colouring books of the characters my daughter enjoys which makes her actually enjoy building her words and growing her ability to interact.

Blue Sky has been going for a long time, over 12 years. Our daughter goes to the 1-1 therapy and the nursery at the London branch of Blue Sky. We couldn’t have asked for a better nursery for our child – the ratio of teachers to kids is amazing and Blue Sky made the process of my daughter start nursery so stress free. Blue Sky had printed photos of us, her parents, and placed them in the nursery to make our child feel at home; Blue Sky had obtained her favourite book characters in toy form to make her feel welcome at nursery.

As a result, for the first time in her life my daughter did “circle time,” was able to sit down and have a snack and focus on an activity for a sustained time. These might sound like easy achievements for neurotypical kids but for my child, this was a huge development. My child had been going to a neurotypical kids play for a long time and she wasn’t able to pick up the social cues for these activities until Blue Sky used their 1-1 experience in communication challenges to help her get there.

Their curriculum is developed according to the governments EYFS framework for nurseries – in addition to that they employ their specialist “play to talk” NDBI methods. The person who runs Blue Sky is a former former teacher and that makes her and the therapists that work with her approach super child friendly whilst bringing their considerable qualifications and experience with child communication to bear. Their podcasts are a good insight into what they do and the podcasts help us do the same work with our daughter at home. We feel very lucky to have found Blue Sky as it’s helped our child’s confidence and communication development.