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Last Updated: Wednesday, 11 May, 2005, 10:38 GMT 11:38 UK
Praise for help for autistic son
Iwan Owen (pic courtesy Bangor Centre for Development Disabilities)
Iwan's mother said he looks alive in his eyes now
A mother has praised a new unit on Anglesey which is working with her autistic teenage son.

Wendy Owen said 14-year-old Iwan's life had "changed beyond words" with the help of the unit run by Bangor University's Centre for Development Disabilities.

The centre has four places although Iwan is currently the only pupil.

They use a scientific based method of teaching skills and treating children's difficult behaviours.

Mrs Owen said without it she would have had to send Iwan to England for care.

The home at Gaerwen is run by 20 specialist staff. Two more possible students have been identified to join Iwan in residence.

It uses an approach common in the US and Scandinavia called Applied Behavioural Analysis (ABA) to help the teenagers.

Iwan Owen  (pic courtesy Bangor Centre for Development Disabilities)
Without the centre he would still be stuck in his own little world
Mother Wendy Owen

Richard Cubie, the centre's head of operations, said ABA enables the staff to "look closely and analytically at how each individual behaves and what drives particular behaviours which could be destructive to the individual or others".

Mrs Owen, from Cemaes Bay, said Iwan has autism with challenging behaviour.

He has been living at the centre since April although he had been attending it for a year before that.

She said although he used to attend a mainstream school, he was always separated from the other pupils.

For the last two years at school, Iwan was looked after by two carers and Mrs Owen and her husband Dyfed had waited for help closer to home.

"I wanted him to stay close to home because we're a Welsh-speaking family and I didn't think it was fair for him to be sent to England," said Mrs Owen, who has two other children.

'Filling a gap'

She said that Iwan receives 24 hour care at the centre and is now able to cut up his own food for the first time.

"Iwan looks alive in his eyes now. He's happy. He has friends.

"Without the centre he would still be stuck in his own little world".

The centre is funded by the local health board and education authority and once established, it plans to open satellite centres in other areas of north Wales.

It is part of the university's psychology school which is a 'hotspot' for behavioural analysts in the UK, offering the country's only masters degree in the subject.

"At the end of the day there's very little point the university going through tortures developing processes, unless its going to something in the community, filling a gap," said Mr Cubie.

The charity the National Autistic Society said it was not appropriate for it to recommend any one practice or therapy for treating the condition.

"The outcome of any approach will depend on the needs of the individual, which vary greatly, and the appropriate application of the intervention," it said in a policy statement.

"An intervention that may help one individual may not be effective for another and some may be highly specific to individual medical conditions."




SEE ALSO:
Autism
03 Mar 05 |  Medical notes
Autism centre trust folds
15 Apr 04 |  North East Wales


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