24 year old Reuben joined Prior's Court when he was just 7 years old. His parents at that time had little notion of what a future could look like for him. Alongside Reuben's severe autism, he also has Smith Magenis Syndrome, which can cause him to overeat and suffer with sleep disorders. His mum, Caroline describes how difficult things were before Reuben attended Prior's Court:

Reuben never slept, it was so bad at one stage that we stayed awake for 11 days in a row. He had complex behavioural issues and had no enjoyment other than bouncing on the trampoline and cooking.

When Reuben joined Prior's Court he had little interest in anything but soft play, he had an intense sensory need for squeezing - quite often squeezing people around him and he used only a few key words. Introducing structure, PECS (Picture Exchange Communication System) and helping Reuben to understand why he was being asked to do something was transformational.

Reuben was not motivated to complete tasks at all, but he was bright and responded well to structure and routine. He quickly learnt the value of schedules and started to have a go at everything. He also made phenomenal progress with language, going from a few words to full sentences. Supporting Reuben meant bridging the gap between autism and expectations.

Sue Piper, Director of Education and Lifelong Learning

He has always had a love for cooking, so much so that his mum recalls a time when she woke in the middle of the night and found Reuben cooking breakfast! Reuben began taking Foodtech sessions at Prior's Court in 2015 and developed valuable skills which have opened up new opportunities: baking and selling muffins to staff and 2 external work experience placements, one of which is in a café in Newbury. His passion and success is what led the staff at Prior’s Court to think that a bakery was the right project to enhance the skillset and work opportunities for the young people in their care.

To have seen him develop and learn over the years makes us immensely proud, he now has purpose and embraces the opportunities Prior's Court has given him. He has a future that we could never have imagined possible and we can now say that although Reuben has a disability and will always need help, he can have a life with opportunities that everyone can recognise.

Caroline and Nic, Reuben's parents