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Charity releases short film to give young people with severe autism a voice

Leading autism charity Prior’s Court has released a short documentary to help give a voice to young people with severe autism.

The 12-minute film follows the journey of eight young people profoundly affected by the condition as they travel to London’s iconic Abbey Road studios to record their own song – Let Me Shine.

It calls for acceptance and understanding for those on the autistic spectrum and sees them overcoming enormous challenges to be a part of the production – the culmination of months of rehearsals and preparation.

Each of the young people at Prior’s Court was supported by their Autism Practitioners who provide round the clock care. Staffing levels vary from 1-1 to 3-1 at all times, tailored to the individual’s level of need.

The video serves to both highlight the harsh realities of living with autism, told first-hand by some of the parents – but also to demonstrate in a very uplifting way the extraordinary things these young people can achieve given the right support.

Sharon Bentley’s son Rowan features prominently in the film. She said:

“I found it very emotional right from the offset. Hearing Rowan singing and then it leading into the film blew me away, he looked so calm and happy. The relationship between the staff and students really stood out and everyone was so happy and filled with joy and excitement, an absolute pleasure to watch.

“Prior’s Court is such a wonderful place enriching the lives of students, memories that they may not be able to verbally express, but that will be with them forever.”

Prior’s Court Chief Executive Mike Robinson wanted to create the film to promote understanding and awareness of those at the far end of the spectrum who are often under-represented. He said; “Many people will be familiar with autism in higher functioning forms, but autism is a spectrum condition which comes in all shapes and sizes.

“The young people at Prior’s Court all have severe autism and complex learning difficulties, which means that everyday tasks and activities we take for granted can be really tough. Sensory differences, anxieties, and difficulty communicating can lead to challenging behaviours and crisis situations. But that shouldn’t mean that they can’t lead fulfilling lives, have dreams, and achieve extraordinary things because it might be too difficult.

“At Prior’s Court, we believe we can help these young people to have a voice. Help them to follow their interests, and achieve things which their families may have once considered impossible. Jamie’s dream is to be a rock star, why shouldn’t he have the chance to make that dream a reality for the day? Why shouldn’t Rowan be able to pursue his love of music?

“Our film is about showing that people with autism can achieve amazing things, and puts the focus on what people can do, not what they can’t.”

The film was created by Submotion Productions, while Jamie Jay and Carlos Posada (who wrote the song) from Oxfordshire band Low Island led on the musical production. Cheshire Fire Choir also joined in to lend their voices on the day of recording.

The charity held a press screening at Newbury’s Corn Exchange before the film was premiered on Facebook recently.

The song Let Me Shine at Abbey Road will also be available to stream or download on all major sites including iTunes and Spotify.