This film was made in 2020

Meet Shaun, a young adult at Prior's Court, and his father Geoff. This video offers an insight into the lives of their family and how they have been affected by complex autism.

Geoff speaks about the heart-breaking decision to send his son to a residential provision some 85 miles away. But also of how Shaun's life has been transformed at Prior's Court - learning valuable life and vocational skills to prepare him for the future, but also reducing his anxieties and self-injurious behaviour.

How they've worked him out is brilliant... they've unravelled the puzzle of Shaun.

Geoff also discusses his hopes for Shaun's future and his desire for him to have some form of independent living and to access the world of work.

"Prior's Court has allowed us to be more of a family" - Geoff and Shaun's story: Transcript

Geoff, Shaun's dad:

"The input of Prior's Court has allowed us to be more of a family when Shaun's home now. Rather than "Shaun's home, we're having to lock down now, and it's all about Shaun. You know, we can go out in the car and we'll go places, we can go down the beach and stuff, albeit when it's a bit quieter and it's fine like, whereas before that was always a struggle.

"Shaun's been diagnosed with severe autism and he's quite high on the spectrum. Shaun's oldest brother, Ben has got Down's Syndrome and he's got, you know, quite severe learning difficulties as well. His middle brother, Liam who's, you know, I suppose "okay" if you like. It probably impacted more on Liam I would say than say than say, Ben, because you're spending more time with Ben and Shaun than say you were with Liam... because he got on and managed his own stuff, if you like, you kind of parked him and concentrated on the other two, which is not really acceptable, but it's what you had to do with the time, you know.

"Going out, it was difficult to go out all together because, you know, for instance when Shaun was younger, if something spooked him, he'd run off. I could catch him then, I probably can't catch him now, you know you were constantly watching the whole time and you had to go out at specific times, if you like, when you knew it was going to be quiet, just in case you know there was problems
and stuff, you know.

"He had a very limited amount of safe or certain foods he would eat, and he would just eat them and nothing else... but, you know, you were having to do like a specific meal for Shaun because, you know, that's all he would eat. Where you're making another meal for the rest of us.

"You're not understanding what he wants, if you like, you're trying to, you know, you're trying to second guess the whole time. But why, you know, sometimes he would just he would do something, for what we could see no reason, and you go "well, why has he done that?". We don't know. You know, he couldn't communicate that... People don't, and people will never understand, they'll never understand, you know, the impact it has on your life."

When he was aged eight, the Holmes family made the difficult decision to opt for residential education for Shaun. Prior's Court, more than 65 miles away, was the provision they wanted. 


"It's a terrible decision to make, you know what I mean, it's not a decision you really want to take lightly and it's not a decision really you should have to make... It should be, you know, your kids making their own decisions... but because you're their voice, you then have to make them difficult decisions. And it was tough decision to make, you know. But going forwards... it gets me every time... going forward, I think it was the right decision. To see Shaun now, and i don't think he'd be where he is now, if it wasn't for Prior's Court. 

"You know, you say "right, we want him to go there" and then you have to go through the process of it being approved by the local authorities, lots of paperwork, lots of phone calls, lots of meetings and you have to fight. You can't just let it lie, you have to fight them and go "this is what we want like, this is in his best interest". So eventually, you know, we got the go ahead for Shaun to go to Prior's Court, which was like a huge relief and a massive burden taken off your shoulders... because there's a constant worry that it's not going to happen. They put stumbling blocks in all the time, which I can understand, because, you know, they've got finite amount of finances, you know, and you don't want to take them all. But what you want to do, is what's best for your child and your child's future."

Now aged 21, Shaun is happier, healthier, and has made huge strides in preparing to live an independent life. 


"Since he's been there, you know, he is obviously quite sociable like, but... he's learned things, you know, simple things, like he'll load the dishwasher or he'll take stuff out the dishwasher you put things away and stuff like that. If there's washing to do, he'll put some washing in the washing machine. He helps out and does things like that, you know. He's learning stuff at Prior's Court which obviously are life skills now, if you like... to help him move on to the next transition... He works in the bakery on occasions, he helps out in the laundry and stuff like that, you know, all the stuff he would have probably never done if he hadn't been at Prior's Court. There's only a limited amount of stuff you can do as a parent, if you like, and you put as much input into it as possible. But, you know, when you're busy looking after... you know, obviously he's got two brothers as well. You've always want for them to eventually have some form of independent type living as such, you know, because they you know most kids when they get to an age, they do move out the home and have their own places... that's always been, you know, a strong focus for that... to try to do something in the community, if you like, have some sort of work program, things like that. That's always been one of our aims like. It's a lot closer now with Prior's Court's help because you can see the things he does and you notice a change even still now when he comes home. Certain things he kind of does and you think "oh, you mean he's doing that now"...  so there's still different things that you're noticing.

Now when he's home, you're not worrying about a lot of things, you know, "oh, is this going to happen, or is that going to happen" because it doesn't... I mean, he still has a few wobbly bits if, you know, if something if he's not happy with something but then that is what it is... we'll go "right, come on Shaun, we'll go and do something else". Whereas before, if he was having a wobbly bit, it would be three or four hours later. And it's stressful on Shaun, you know. There'd be head-butting doors, head-butting the floor, slapping himself, you know. There's none of that now, and that's all down to Prior's Court. The staff at Prior's Court, I can't speak highly enough of them. Very professional, dedicated people. It's a tough job to do, you know, tough job and you know. And they're all, every time I'm up there, they're friendly, they're always happy and smiling... even if someone's having a little bit of a moment or whatever, it's always calming. It's never like, it's not a panic, you know what i mean. And yeah, I think they're fabulous, you know. How they've worked him out is brilliant, like i think i mean. And they have, they've worked him out. They've unraveled the puzzle of Shaun I think, you know."

When he is 25, Shaun will be moving on from Prior's Court to the next stage of his life.


"I'd like him to stay there forever to be fair, you know. I mean, I know it's impossible and sadly he will have to leave and i think that'll be a major trauma in Shaun's life personally... and in ours, because we then have to find somewhere that's, if you like, as good if not better - but you're not going to find any way better, as far as i'm concerned, you know. So you're gonna have to take as good, I'm afraid." 

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