BLUE SKY AUTISM
The Club gave a warm welcome to Rhona Blue who was the speaker on Thursday. Her subject was the work of Blue Sky Autism, an innovative programme designed to support children aged from six months to 11 years who are experiencing some form of delay in their development that may include autism. The charity, founded by Dr Ruth Glynne-Owen, is based in London and Bridge of Allan, but serves a much wider community of need across the UK. Rhona has been an Assistant Consultant at the Bridge of Allan Centre for eight years.
The Blue Sky approach stresses the advantages of providing early intervention where a child is seen to be experiencing some form of difficulty in social, linguistic or other aspects of development. Research has shown that one of the early signs that a child is experiencing these developmental difficulties is a delay in the child’s early communication skills. In seeking to address these issues through its programme of support activities, Blue Sky has shown that even very young children can benefit from targeted, play-based interventions that focus on developing their engagement, mainly with parents. It is through the promotion of such interactions that children can be encouraged to develop non-verbal responses as well as language.
Rhona did, however, point out that children experiencing these challenges may respond in different ways to any given approach: there is no single activity that will suit all children and their families. Recognising this, Rhona explained that the Blue Sky programme includes a number of important strands that, following thorough assessment, can be implemented as appropriate. These include therapy sessions on a one-to one basis; specific coaching of parents to support the development of their interaction skills with their children; social skills groups for children of different ages; and support to nurseries and schools that are employing the programme’s activities. But, of these, Rhona insisted, it has been the early, intensive, family-based treatment programmes that have shown particular benefits. Parents, coached and encouraged through such means as the Blue Sky Play2Talk programme, use a variety of games and other interactive play to support early social communication skills, including speech. This play leads to a closer parent-child relationship that is crucial to establishing the development of positive responses from the child.
Further information on the work of Blue Sky Autism can be found at blueskyautism.com.
Speaker’s Host, Stuart Brown, spoke of Rhona’s obvious enthusiasm which she had conveyed successfully to the Club members.
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