Almost twenty years on from opening, Prior’s Court has just welcomed its 200th student.

The charity - which provides specialist residential care and education for young people with severe autism - started out with just two young people and a staff team of 28. It now currently supports 91 students and more than 500 employees.

While this milestone is cause for celebration in the number of families who have been reached and supported – this World Autism Awareness Week (1-7 April), the organisation is highlighting an unprecedented demand for placements.

Priors Court CEO Mike RobinsonChief Executive Mike Robinson said; “We are dealing with a phenomenal number of admissions enquiries each week, with parents and local authorities working desperately hard to find appropriate placements for the young people they’re supporting. In February alone, we received 83 enquiries from parents, local authorities and education consultants, as well as hosting tours for 20 parents. We are continually looking into ways that we can further expand to help meet demands.

“We know that finding the right provision and having it agreed can be a lengthy and frustrating process which often leaves families in crisis and at risk. This is something we’d like to see addressed in the revised autism strategy, and would urge families to share their experiences and feedback in the current consultation on the Government website which is open until 16 May. This is the first time the strategy will include children as well as adults so it’s the ideal opportunity for parents to have their voices heard.”