Autism charity creates bespoke data platform

Prior’s Court is using a bespoke data system to record thousands of activities each week to help monitor the effectiveness of its support for young people with autism.

Joe Lepper | 4th Dec 19

A charity for young people with autism is involved in a data initiative to record more than 10,000 ‘diary entries’ a week, including activities such as, watching TV, eating and drinking.

The bespoke digital platform is called Prior Insight and is being used by Prior’s Court charity in Berkshire to help staff gain a better understanding of how they can support the young people they are looking after.

Other activities, such as when they go for a walk, play with a puzzle and go to the toilet, are also being recorded, amounting to around 10,000 entries a week.

“This data gives us unprecedented insights to map and analyse autism-related behaviours and triggers,” said Elaine Hudgell, Prior Insight Operational Project Lead.

“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.

An example she gives is the collection of evidence of the behavioural patterns that happened during the build up to one young person’s seizure.

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

“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,” said Hudgell.

“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.”

Virtual reality headsets

Meanwhile, the charity’s school has also bought virtual reality headsets for children to use. This aims to help accustom pupils to scenarios they may find stressful as well as provide relaxation via sensory experiences.

It is also being used to give students a chance to familiarise themselves with experiences they would not take part in within their everyday lives, such as skiing.

Nuno Guerreiro, computing teacher at Prior’s Court, said: “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.”