Our History

It all started when Pat Minshull was concerned about the lack of support for her son Peter. Now we're a national charity which has worked with thousands of autistic people.

Autism Initiatives was founded in 1972 by Pat Minshull

When Pat realised that her son Peter had autism her initial concern was for his education. With a group of supporters she successfully raised funds to buy a property in Southport, where she founded Peterhouse School in 1973. Thanks to local support - and the patronage of the then Prime Minister Harold Wilson - the work continued. As her son's needs changed, with adulthood approaching, so Pat’s vision developed and she realised there was a need for adult services for autistic people.

Peter and Pat Minshull

After another highly successful fundraising campaign, Pat and her supporters bought more premises and the Petersfield Autistic Community was established in 1986. This community soon became home to Peter and a number of other young adults with autism.

Sadly Pat died of cancer, but to this day Peter continues to be supported by Autism Initiatives and lives happily not too far from his original family home.

Pat left a lasting legacy. Not only has she ensured the future of her son, but the work she started has changed the lives of thousands of people throughout the UK and Ireland.

Today, almost 50 years on, we have over 70 homes offering supported living, almost 30 residential homes, eight community resource centres, four one stop shops, three social enterprises offering work placements, two schools, two short breaks services and one FE college.