Outlander Chat at The Lounge: Afterthoughts with Dr. Ruth from Blue Sky Autism

On Friday, June 25th’s Outlander Chat at The Lounge we were dazzled by Downie’s Ducklings surprise guest, Dr. Ruth from Blue Sky Autism based in London. She is the Founder, Volunteer Chief Executive and Lead Consultant; Creator of the Play2Talk Approach.

Through the dynamic efforts of the Downie’s Ducklings. The “Ducklings Take Flight'' fundraiser raised $3,210 was for this amazing organization that is truly making a difference.

Dr. Ruth was kind enough to answer my “Afterthoughts” question. Enjoy the additional Q & A below.


OLL - Do you have any inspiring stories you can share about the developmental growth of a particular child because of the programming or facility upgrades you were able to provide from past fundraising efforts?

DR - There are so many to choose from over the past 11 years but way back in 2012 one of our clients ran the London marathon for his 40th birthday in our honour and raised £42k! This enabled us to start up a nursery group for 6 children at a time which ran for almost 4 years just from that funding. The impact that this intensive group had for the children that attended was incredible. There are children who attended this group who are now in mainstream schools coping independently because of what we were able to provide. It was life changing for so many little ones!



OLL - What is a typical online learning/seminar experience like for Blue Sky? Are there a multitude of subjects to choose from? Do you record your programs or are they all done live?

DR - We run a variety of 1-1, small group and larger group seminars and trainings. These range from individualized parent coaching sessions online and in person to larger group seminars focusing on developing speech and communication, play skills, taming toddler tantrums, toilet training and most recently during the UK lockdown we have done training on using household objects to teach a range of new skills!

Prior to COVID all training was delivered live and in person, since COVID we have been doing everything over Zoom. We have a training website where we have a range of courses for parents and carers at www.play2talk.co.uk. We are also launching a new webinar series very soon!



OLL - How many other people do you have on staff? What is the education level or experience requirements necessary to become part of your staff?

DR - We are a smaller team than we used to be but currently there are 6 staff members: 2 in London and 3 in Scotland. Our staff has a full range of qualifications; our assistant consultant in London has an MSc in child development and our therapist has an MSc in neuroscience. Our Scotland team has qualifications in early education, autism, music and psychology. We always look for a strong and creative personality first and foremost, and someone who knows how to play!!! The qualifications are helpful but it’s far more important to be able to make small children laugh than anything else!


OLL - Do you have any advice for individuals who would like to work in your field?

DR - Go for it! Get as much experience as you can working with young children and find out all you can about autism. But remember once you’ve met one person with autism-you’ve only met one person with autism. Everyone is individual and it’s always about tuning into the individual strengths and needs of each child.


OLL - What's next for Blue Sky Autism? Any exciting programs or facility improvements/expansions in the works?

DR - With us it’s always about funding. In order to grow we need to keep on trying to fundraise and find grant providers. In the U.K. early intervention for autism is not a government priority so there’s not a lot of funds allocated to the field. As an independent provider of evidence based therapy we don’t qualify for many grants at all and it’s gotten worse since COVID. However we are very resourceful and we are lucky to have so many wonderful people who want to support us. Our next big project is opening a specialist nursery in London and then in Scotland. We hope this will fill a big gap in services over here and we will be pushing some bigger fundraising events soon to support this!

Dr Ruth and Mr. Tim Downie Dr Ruth and Mr. Tim Downie

Did you do a double take? Yes, you are seeing these photos correctly. The two photos above are in fact of Dr. Ruth with Mr. Tim Downie. Tim is an ambassador for Blue Sky Autism.


OLL - Totally off topic, but just for fun, build us your ideal sandwich.

DR - Ooooh! I’m gluten and dairy free but I still love a sandwich with gluten free bread - usually best toasted! So it would need to start with a layer of vegan cheese, slightly melted….followed by some avocado. Then some chicken, hot sauce, tomatoes, crispy smoked bacon and another layer of cheese, with some mayo on there too just for good measure!!

For additional information about Blue Sky Autism visit https://www.blueskyautism.com/


All photos approved for use by Dr. Ruth


Click on the link below to watch the full IGTV Outlander Chat at The Lounge featuring Jenna & Emily from Downie's Ducklings and Dr. Ruth from Blue Sky Autism. 

Outlander Chat at The Lounge (50)


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