Our history

Autism Initiatives was established in 1971 in the Merseyside area through the efforts of Pat Minshull, a parent whose child had autism.

Pat’s vision

In 1971 there was little awareness of autism as a condition, and there were few or no services available to support Pat or her son Peter. At that time, Pat was primarily concerned about Peter’s education, and with a group of supporters she successfully raised the funds needed to purchase a property in Southport, where she founded Peterhouse School in 1973.

Pat’s vision for people with autism was soon not confined just to education services. As Peter moved through the school and on towards adulthood, Pat became acutely aware of the pressing need for adult services for people with autism.

A second successful fundraising campaign resulted in the purchase of premises in Crosby, Merseyside and the founding of Petersfield Autistic Community in 1986. This community became home to Peter and a number of other young adults with autism.

Peter continues to be supported by the organisation and lives contentedly in community housing not far from his first home as an adult in Crosby. The original premises of the Petersfield Autistic Community are now the organisation’s head office.

Today the organisation provides direct support to over 800 people with ASC, in nearly 100 locations throughout the United Kingdom, the Isle of Man and Ireland.

Pat Minshull is sadly no longer with us, but we are inspired by her vision every day. The charity’s mission - now as it was when Pat first wrote it - is to:

‘Meet the needs of people with autism, their families and carers by providing a range of services which are personal, professional and innovative.’

The following are some key dates in the organisation’s history and development:

  • Founded as the Liverpool and Lancashire Autistic Society
  • Peterhouse School opens in 1973 
  • Petersfield Autistic Community is established in 1986. Shortly after this the organisation begins development of a network of community housing
  • Renamed Autism Initiatives in 1998
  • Services in the Isle of Man established in 2000
  • Services in Northern Ireland established in 2000
  • Services in Scotland established in 2003
  • Eire services opened in 2007
  • The organisation opened a Welsh office in Aberystwyth in 2009