SINCE its formation more than 50 years ago Autism Wessex has been supporting people living with autism and their families.

The charity, which is based in Christchurch, now provides children, adults and families with practical care, support and eduction.

An Autism Wessex spokesperson said: "More importantly we aim to give hope and inspiration to each child or adult living with autism so that they have ever opportunity to achieve their potential.

"Our vision is a world where people living with autism are active citizens enjoying maximum independence and a high quality of life."

The following is a breakdown of the support provided by Autism Wessex.


Portfield School is a thriving, specialist school for more than 90 pupils in purpose-built accommodation in Parley, near Bournemouth Airport, and at its senior school, ‘Life Skills’ facility, which is based in Christchurch.

The school caters for children and young people from ages four to 19 with a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder.

The school offers specialist facilities such as a therapy pool, sensory rooms and a Forest School, as well as therapeutic support and a strong creative curriculum delivered by expert teams.

Residential Homes

The charity has six residential homes for adults across the Wessex region, each housing up to four people.

The organisation aims to help adults achieve their potential, on their terms. Each of thehomes provides a safe, supportive, and positive environment, ensuring that personal interests, hobbies and needs are encouraged.

Across all households, the environment and expert staff allow each person to feel confident to be able to express themselves and maximise their potential.

Community Support

Services are available to adults living with autism and other developmental disorders in their own homes or for the purpose of accessing a community activity or duty such as work, college or day services.

More recently, the charity has begun working in partnership with other agencies such as housing providers and have welcomed two new tenants to a recently refurbished seven-unit property in Christchurch, named Aspire.

While Autism Wessex has been commissioned to provide the care to the adults living at Aspire, the property is owned and managed by Inclusion Housing, giving tenants security of tenure and the freedom to manage their own provisions. Aspire is complete with sleep-in facilities for the support team, offering tenants a safe and secure environment whilst allowing for round-the-clock support where needed.

This type of provision enables the adults we support to lead more independent lives, providing them with their own space for those times when they want to be alone or enjoy some peace and quiet. It is a perfect mix of security and choice with their own tenancy agreement and the knowledge that our support team are on hand when they need them.

Community Connection Service

This part of Autism Wessex's work provides sign-posting support for people who need to find out more about services available to them or have questions about how to address some life challenges, or simply just want to talk.

We recognise that there are not many services available out there but our community connectors are there to help create peer group support, and help share experiences.

Today is World Autism Awareness Day and across the past week Autism Wessex has been completing a week-long celebration and fundraising.

The week-long celebrations for World Autism Awareness Day began on Friday, March 29, when an Easter egg template for a colouring competition was given to all students who donated 50p to take part. All entries were completed over the weekend and published on social media for a panel of judges to choose the winner.

Bournemouth Echo:

On Monday and Tuesday of this week the chairty held ‘Rabbit Races’ with each of the school classes taking part.

Early Years, Primary and Secondary school students all hopped their way around the Autism Wessex site complete with bunny ears for good measure. Prizes were awarded to those who completed the most laps in their time frame.

Wednesday saw the school put on an Easter Fayre selling specially made cakes, biscuits and all things chocolatey, together with some less edible things like board games, music, CDs and puzzles. Each class took it in turns to visit the stalls to stay in their bubbles safely.

Bournemouth Echo:

An Easter egg hunt took place on Thursday, with students searching the site for those elusive little eggs accompanied by a mystery white rabbit who keptappearing in strange places.

Bournemouth Echo:

On Friday, April 2, World Autism Awareness Day, Autism Wessex has launched its Amazon Wish List Appeal and throughout April the chairty will be promoting the items which supporters can purchase from Amazon across our social media channels.

Each of these items have been carefully chosen by teachers and key workers, to support with the education and development of the children and adults we support.

Any purchase, however big or small, gives incredible benefits to service users, helping them to manage anxiety, or improve concentration or to increase relaxation during stressful times. 

At the time of writing, students and staff at Portfield School have raised in excess of £1,500 from all the activities.

To find out more about Autism Wessex, visit