Prior’s Court is a registered charity providing education and residential care for young people aged 5-25 with Complex Autism. Set within a 50-acre site in Berkshire, their facilities aim to support young people living with Complex Autism. 

All young people at Prior’s Court are on the Autism spectrum, have moderate to severe learning difficulties and complex needs. Some may also have associated conditions such as ADHD, epilepsy, OCD and/or other health or additional needs. On average, each young person at Prior’s Court has an additional four co-occurring conditions. Many of these young people exhibit challenging behaviours and are non-verbal, pre-verbal or have limited functional language. 

All individuals at Prior’s Court have sensory processing difficulties including light and noise sensitivity which makes everyday interactions particularly challenging. Difficulties around communication mean young people struggle to make their needs known. This, coupled with a world which is not set up for people so complexly affected by their Autism, makes interactions with the world confusing and daunting. Examples of this could be; a young person unable to verbalise a dislike for a certain type of clothing or food, feeling pain and being unable to indicate to others what’s hurting, or being unable to understand the actions of strangers such as medical professionals. 

A key cause of anxiety for many living with Complex Autism is unpredictable situations. They can result in behaviours which are injurious to one-self or others and potentially place one-self in dangerous scenarios. Supporting and caring for an individual living with autism requires answering key questions. Where am I going? What am I doing? What actions or behaviour is expected of me in this situation? These are challenges people living with the diagnosis face regularly and they can be difficult for many neurotypical individuals to grasp. 

Autism diagnoses, which often take years to formally be made, are more common in males than females, with the theory being that females are more adept at “masking” how their Autism affects them. 

(More information about Priors Court and Complex Autism can be found on the charity’s website: https://www.priorscourt.org.uk/)