Our history

Timeline

1968

Our charity is founded by parents of children with autism who recognised the gap in educational support

1971

Our first school is founded in the garden shed of one of the founding family's homes in Southbourne. Those same parents then purchased a large house in Christchurch replacing the garden shed with Portfield School offering 20 spaces funded by the local authority.

1988

Our first residential home is opened. After recognising the lack of support for adults our first residential home - High Croft was opened providing care and support to eight individuals.

1990

Having established one of the first schools for children with autism in the UK, demand for places grew and by the mid 1990s the school had grown in to three buildings supporting 36 children.

1995

Our early years launches. In 1995 an early years class was constructed at Portfield School and student numbers increased to 42.

1999

Our Community Support Service is launched. offering care and support to individuals in their own homes or out in the local community.

2002

Portfield School moved to its current location in Parley, a purpose built school, opened officially by HRH The Princess Royal.

2017

Portfield School becomes a day school.

2018

Development of Life Skills service.

2019

The Head Office of the charity moved to the Parley Lane site.

2021

Opened first supported living facility and launched diagnosis centre.

The journey continues

Fifty years ago, Autism Wessex was founded by some very dedicated parents in a garden shed. Their drive and determination to build a better future for those living with autism is still the focal point of our charity today; we exist to open minds to the fact that every autistic person has unique skills and abilities and can achieve great things and lead a purposeful life. However, the world has changed and so have we.

As we continue to evolve we are determined to work with our students and their families to create unlimited possibilities.

7a/eyJiIjoiYXV0aXNtLXVubGltaXRlZC5vcmciLCJrIjoiN2E2MjM4NzBkYmVjODkyODY3Y2RkMWRhYzUwMjBjZmMuanBnIiwiZSI6eyJyZXNpemUiOnsid2lkdGgiOjYwMCwiaGVpZ2h0Ijo2MDB9fSwiaCI6IjQ1ZmRhMmYzNzg2MjE0YTU1MTUwZjRmMzk3MzdmZjNmIn0=