"The most precious thing in the world" - that is how one Prior's Court parent has described hearing their son say "mummy" for the first time in 16 years.

The family of Joel has shared the video below which is of their son saying "mummy" and gesturing to a photo of Barney the Dinosaur, calling attention to his toy Barney no longer playing the songs it once did.

Joel's mum Claire said: "It’s the most precious thing in the world hearing Joel call me “mummy”. I’ve waited 16 years to hear him say it. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing the first time he said it which is why I recorded it! It is just so beautiful to hear his voice."

Autistic young person Joel is benefitting from the language-rich environment provided at Prior's Court which supports the use of Aided Language Stimulation within a Total Communication Approach. Total communication means accepting and responding positively to all attempts young people at Prior's Court make to communicate with us, whether it be verbal or by other means.

Many of the autistic young people we support will use a variety of ways to communicate, often using gestures, sounds/vocalisations, symbols and some verbal language.

However, most young people will also have a formal Alternative and Augmentative (AAC) communication system provided for them following assessment and implementation by one of our Speech and Language Therapy team. Staff support young people to learn how to use their system by using Aided Language stimulation, modelling the language in the system by pointing at the symbols and saying the words verbally to provide language input across the waking day.

We aim to empower all our young people to have a voice, allowing meaningful connections and participation as a basic human right.