Keeping Me Well - Cardiff and Vale University Hospital

Support for parents of children with emerging learning disabilities

The Early Positive Approaches to Support (E-PAtS) Programme

Early Positive Approaches to Support (E-PAtS) is an 8-week programme delivered across Cardiff and the Vale to empower parents of children aged 0-5 with an emerging learning disability.

Over the course of 8 weeks, we will look at key areas to help you with your child’s development.

These include:

Mum with young child
Support for sleep
Communication (noticing the ways that non-verbal children communicate)
Understanding challenging behaviour
Support surrounding accessing service
Emotional wellbeing and resilience for caregivers

The programme was co-produced by experienced parent carers of children with learning disabilities and Clinical Psychologist Dr Nick Gore. It is based on principles of Positive Behaviour Support and the ‘things parent carers wish they had known more about when their children were younger.’  Consider it those extra pages of the parenting manual!

The aim is to create a sense of community and connection for parent carers to reduce feelings of isolation and blame and shame. 

It also seeks to reduce the risks of behaviour that challenge before a crisis is reached and to limit the impact that these behaviours have on children, families and professionals. By providing the skills to parents to better meet the needs of these children at an early stage.

What our parents have to say


Cerdd a gafodd ei hysgrifennu gan Judy, riant ofalwr a fynychodd EPAtS ac sydd bellach yn hwylusydd:


Somewhere over the rainbow 🌈 dreams come true
My world makes sense to others,
They understand me too.
Somewhere over the rainbow 🌈 life is good
Days are smile filled and happy just like I hoped they could.
One day I wished upon a star,
For some support and here you are.
Where I’d be heard and listened to.
It’s not so hard when folks try to.
Where issues fade like melting snow
And sound advice is where to go, its where to find it?
Somewhere over the rainbow 🌈 way up high,
There’s a group that I heard of, EPATs now let us unify.

Professional Facilitators

Dr Emma Johnston,
Clinical Psychologist

Dr Alice Horton, Counselling Psychologist

Claire George

Claire George, Psychologist therapist and PBS informed advisor

Hayley Williams

Hayley Williams,
Child Development Advisor









Some of our Parent Carer Facilitators

We currently run EPAtS groups in various locations around Cardiff, the Vale and online. They typically run during term times, with some facilities offering a creche so you don’t have to worry about getting childcare.

To access EPATS a self-referral can be made via the Gateway (Cardiff) on 08000 327 322 or Families First Advice Line (the Vale) on 03000 133 133.

Referrals can be made by your health visitor or yourself.

For more information please contact:

Who delivers the sessions?

The programme is delivered by a professional and a parent carer facilitator who have both been trained in the programme and have experience in supporting children with learning disabilities and their families. In this way co-production will offer you some practical, realistic and sensitive support in a non-judgemental environment.

Llygad Coffee Mornings

cup of coffee

Once a month families that we work with are welcomed to join our coffee mornings.

By bringing families together who have similar experiences we aim to create a support network where parent carers are appreciated, listened to and develop their village.

The coffee mornings are free to attend, and do not require you to book, just turn up! Children are also welcome!

For more information contact:

Individual and Couples counselling

When parents plan to have a child, they generally do not expect them to have additional developmental needs. So, when they start to realise that their child has additional developmental needs, or their child is given a diagnosis (whether this is during pregnancy, birth or sometime after) this can trigger a lot of different emotions. 

Parents report feelings of shock, denial, grief, anxiety, guilt, anger, stress, exhaustion and many more. These are normal responses to an unexpected situation. Parents may also witness some very frightening situations such as the initial birth, medical investigations or treatments that may leave them feeling traumatised.

We therefore offer counselling to parents/carers to give them a safe space to explore and make sense of these difficult feelings without fear of judgement.

For more information contact:

Dads' Group

We will be starting a group for dad’s who have children with learning disabilities. This will be a focus group that will run once a month, allowing dads to speak openly about their experiences and to create a support network with other dads who are also living with children with emerging learning disabilities.

The group will be starting towards the end of the year. If you are a dad and you are interested in attending, please use the link below to complete a form expressing your interest and we will be in contact with you.

Sibling Groups

A 6-session programme to support children aged 7-11 who have a sibling with Global Developmental Delay / Emerging Learning Disability.

Sibs is a UK charity for children and adults who have a sibling with a disability.

The aim for the group are:

  • Fun
  • Relieve Isolation
  • Acknowledge feelings
  • Model Coping Strategies
  • Enhance Knowledge

We will running the group from September, if you have a child aged 7 – 11 who could be interested please email:

More support

Keeping Me Well - Cardiff and Vale University Hospital

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