Technology opening the way for enhanced understanding of the world of autism

The complex nature of the young people at Prior’s Court requires information to be collected on every aspect of their lives, information that enables us to track the progress they make and informs us about ways in which we can improve this progress and the outcomes they achieve. 

Yet, in common with residential and special schools across the UK, we historically relied on multiple outmoded, paper-based data collection and storage systems that made reporting and analysis difficult because no integrated digital recording and reporting system existed.

So, we came up with a smart digital solution - a whole organisational recording and reporting system for children and young people with autism called Prior Insight. 

Prior's Court CEO, Mike Robinson explains why there is a need for this technology:

Autism is a complex condition. The fundamental question ‘Why does someone with autism have a good day or a bad day?’ is a difficult one to answer. For the young people at Prior’s Court who are severely affected by autism, often with other complex coexisting conditions, it is almost impossible to answer. We believe that by applying the power of being able to collect and analyse large quantities of data to this problem, we will be able to start to answer the question.

Harnessing the power of modern digital technology to store and interrogate large amounts of data, this system provides new insights into the complexities of autism, enabling a better understanding and mapping of autistic behaviours. Through a better understanding, we are able to predict behaviour and intervene where needed. 

The technology to achieve this is not cutting edge but it is the practical application and the need to apply it to the whole organisation which is key. Prior’s Court has chosen to partner with an organisation in the adult care sector which has developed and is operating a system delivering this today. We are working with them to customise it for the world of education and residential care for children with autism.

Mike Robinson, CEO

Impact

In addition to its fundamental purpose of improving the quality of life for young people with autism, Prior Insight is also transforming the way Prior’s Court operates and we anticipate the impact for not only our young people but also the wider autism community will be immense, based on:

  • a better understanding of our young people and how to help them have more good days
  • a speedier understanding of why things happen
  • happier young people, better able to thrive and learn
  • a better understanding of autism as a condition which we can share with the wider autism community.

Meet Otto

Otto with staff member in giant bubbleOtto is 11 years old. He has autism and severe learning disabilities, coupled with other co-existing conditions. He has epilepsy which is extremely difficult to manage, along with neurological problems linked to motor control which also affects some cognitive functions such as attention and language.

He has low muscle tone, communication problems and difficulty in swallowing. Like many of our young people, Otto’s complex needs mean he requires individualised specialist care and support.

By using information recorded in Prior Insight, our staff quickly identified a trend that Otto’s behavioural incidents spiked in the lead-up to him having an absence seizure. Absence seizures are tricky to spot because they only last a couple of seconds and can look like daydreaming or staring into space, which can mean they go unnoticed. Now staff are alerted when his behavioural incidents increase, so they can be extra vigilant for seizure activity. This means they are able to provide even better, informed care for him on a daily basis – so that he can have more good days and lead a happier, healthier life.

For a more detailed understanding of the project and its importance for our young people, please read here or watch the explainer video below:

Funding

Prior Insight front cover

With our long history of innovation, reputation for excellence, support for research and as one of the largest providers of residential care and education for children and young people with severe autism in the UK, Prior’s Court is uniquely placed to deliver Prior Insight. However, large scale, transformational technology-led projects like this are costly. There is signifcant expense attached, including costs of the actual equipment and software, both at the start and ongoing.

Even more signifcantly, additional funding would enable us to do so much more than we can currently do. What we are now able to record and analyse is just the tip of the iceberg; with further funding for specifc research projects, we could ask even more questions to produce even better answers.

If you can help us realise the ambition to unlock the potential for this unique recording system to help all young people severely affected by autism, please donate or contact the Fundraising Team for more information: [email protected]

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