A Prior’s Court young person has enjoyed his first-ever theatre visit, showing the transformational power of the performing arts.

Thomas, 14, visited Kings Theatre, Southsea, in Portsmouth, went to see a show at the theatre for the first time on Sunday, 8 October, seeing Fireman Sam Live.

Individuals with autism face many barriers to accessing the arts – from light and noise sensitivities to understanding of social rules – and one aim of the centre is to mimic theatre environments to prepare young people to access arts venues in the community successfully. This is in addition to having the opportunity day-to-day to express themselves creatively in a dedicated, bespoke space.

This is why Prior’s Court is currently fundraising for a new Performing Arts Centre, which will feature adapted facilities to support young people with complex autism to access opportunities in music, dance and drama and the life-enriching benefits this provides – as can be seen in Thomas’s theatre visit experience.

Thomas’s parents were inspired to attempt the trip by seeing how well their son was coping at Prior’s Court when he was trying new things. Thomas joined Prior’s Court in 2018.

Claire, Thomas’s mum, said: “We weren’t sure how he’d cope, but we made a schedule for him and he coped brilliantly. My husband and I spent most of the show just watching his face as he was mesmerised and was just loving it. 

“This was the first time we’d ever taken Thomas to something like this and I think seeing how he copes with things at school gave us the confidence to try.”

Find out more about the Performing Arts Centre appeal