Autism Study Defines Needs Of Families

June 26, 2002

Today a study undertaken by the University of Glamorgan offers important recommendations to the Rhondda Cynon Taff Multi-Agency Working Group on Autism as it develops its policy of service provision for families with a child suffering from Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD).There has been growing recognition of ASD, and of the increasing numbers of children being diagnosed with the condition in Wales. 189 cases have been diagnosed in the Rhondda Cynon Taff (RCT) area alone. As a consequence, there has been increasing pressure on authorities to devise and provide the best services possible for such children and their families.

The RCT Multi-Agency Working Group for Children with Autism, using money from the Sure Start programme, commissioned research on the topic from the School of Care Sciences at the University of Glamorgan.

The Glamorgan team, led by Professor Laurie Moseley, asked for the views of a panel of families and professionals on the provision currently in place. In an exhaustive consultation process, 391 suggestions emerged, from which eleven recommendations were distilled.

They were as follows:

Parents should be offered ways of dealing with an ASD child *Parents should have education on dealing with autistic behaviour *GPs and other professionals should have training in early identification *Dedicated specialist social workers with appropriate knowledge and training should be appointed *There should be greater co-operation between agencies and staff *A dedicated social worker should be the key worker for links *Respite care should be provided during holidays *A clinical psychologist should be appointed with knowledge in the management of behaviour *A key worker should be named to link with agencies *There should be a one-stop shop for information on the condition

The recommendations will now be considered by the RCT Multi-Agency Working Group for Children with Autism.

Professor Moseley commented that offering services to Valleys communities was a major part of the university’s mission. However, he emphasised that the advantage to the locality was that the University of Glamorgan was a university. “Aspirations and ethical principles are rightly the domain of elected representatives,” he said. “The university has no right to usurp such functions.

What it has to offer is the skill in designing, implementing, and analysing research so that the data on which policy is based are reliable and unbiased. It is precisely because it is in the community, but not of the community, that the university has something unique to offer to the locality. We hope that the current study will help to demonstrate that fact, and to encourage further initiatives and collaboration. We may occasionally be a critical friend, but we are always a friend.”

Note to Editors*

The Sure Start initiative is a Welsh Assembly Government programme designed to enhance the development of young children during their early years. Targeted primarily at the 0-3 age group, it aims to improve health and the ability to learn and to improve social development. It recommends the achievement of these aims through the development of locally based, co-ordinated services working in partnership with parents.

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