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'Gamechanger' in the world of autism 

Technology helping Prior's Court School to map behaviour 

John Herring

John Herring


01635 886633

'Gamechanger' in the world of autism 

CUTTING edge technology at Prior’s Court School is helping to change the game of understanding autism.

The Hermitage-based school is using it to transform how it supports the young people in its care.

Prior Insight is a ground-breaking digital platform which gathers data about autism, with staff members able to log information about the young person they are working with every day.

The data, called ‘diary entries’, is input via the digital platform and covers records such as food and drink intake, toileting, and activities undertaken, such as a walk, a puzzle or watching TV.

On average, more than 10,000 diary entries are made every week.

Prior Insight operational project lead Elaine Hudgell said: “This data gives us unprecedented insights to map and analyse autism-related behaviours and triggers.

“With this, we gain a deeper understanding of each of our young people and so produce informed, tailored support for them to have more good days.

“Essentially, it helps to communicate to us digitally what our young people are not able to tell us verbally– it’s bridging that gap and helping to give them a voice.

“For one young person, Prior Insight helped us to recognise certain behavioural patterns he displayed in the build-up to a seizure.

“This meant we were alerted in advance that a seizure might be imminent and could provide appropriate support. 

“These insights, and the future research opportunities the rich data can inform, can then be shared with the wider autism sector and potentially influence approaches and policy outside of Prior’s Court.

“It is no exaggeration to say Prior Insight has been a gamechanger for us and has the potential to be a gamechanger for the wider autism world.”

In another technology-related initiative, Prior’s Court School has purchased four virtual reality (VR) headsets, thanks to a generous donation.

The headsets are being used in a variety of ways including acclimatising students to scenarios they are likely to encounter outside of Prior’s Court which, due to being affected by autism, they may find stressful or anxiety-inducing – such as being on a bus or at an airport.

A 360° camera has also been purchased, which allows staff members to record environments inside and outside of Prior’s Court, to provide a wider range of scenarios for pupils.

Computing teacher at Prior’s Court, said: “Our computing curriculum is about working with other departments to use technology to aid our young people’s wider learning and developing their independence.

“VR headsets provide a valuable contribution to this – from preparing our young people for ‘everyday’ scenarios they may encounter outside of Prior’s Court and familiarisation with locations they are to visit on work placements, to using the sensory experiences to complement the work of our occupational therapists.

“We are very excited by the opportunities VR can provide for our young people.”

A fundraising project for Prior Insight is ongoing.

To donate, contact the fundraising team on (01635) 247202 or email  

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