ACADEMICS HAVE found that two-thirds of autistic children undertaking a pioneering programme in North Wales showed significantly raised IQs. One child's score shot up from a below-average 72 to 115, while another child's went up 40 points from 30 to 70.
It is now believed that the intensive learning technique, which uses one-to-one tutoring at home and school, will help more pupils move into mainstream education. Supporters would like to see the programme, which gives each child their own classroom space, rolled out across Wales.
Researchers from Bangor and Southampton universities investigated the effects of the early intensive behavioural intervention (EIBI) programme, at Westwood school in Buckley, north-east Wales. Until recently, it was the only special unit for autistic children in the UK using the programme. But a new unit which opened last month at the Welsh-medium Ysgol y Garnedd, Bangor, now offers the same techniques.
"One little girl who came to us last year was constantly bolting and grabbing things," said Dr Corinna Grindle, consultant behaviour analyst from the University of Bangor and based at Westwood.
"Now she spends 70 per cent of her time in mainstream. It was as if she had to be shown what to do in a structured way."
The Westwood unit, funded jointly by Flintshire and Wrexham local authorities and supported by Bangor university, was said to be "outstanding" in a recent report by Welsh inspectorate Estyn.
As well as official and scientific recognition, staff at Westwood's 10-pupil key stage 1 facility are celebrating after being told they can offer KS2 next year, doubling pupil intake.
Teachers worked through individual programmes which can involve skills from toilet-training to speaking and writing. Praise and small rewards are key to the technique. Staff also work with parents Teacher-in-charge Mrs Kath Huxley. "We'd like to see this available to all autistic children."
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