Empowering People, Launching lives

Our story

We are proud of the difference we have made since starting our journey in 2000, and look forward to the impact we can continue to have for, and with, autistic people for decades to come.

BeyondAutism was founded by a group of parents, led by Karen Sorab, who started by setting up a small school in Wandsworth. We started with just 3 pupils in a run-down pre-fabricated hut on the grounds of Beatrix Potter School.

Since then, the charity has undergone a remarkable transformation, growing exponentially in response to need. We now deliver education to pupils from Local Authorities across London from our Early Years’ service to our Post-19 Provision. In addition, our Outreach and Training Team provide support across the country stretching our reach far beyond London.

“The first Rainbow School was hardly a school at all. It was little more than a hut, kindly lent to us by Beatrix Potter. But to my mind it still stands as a symbol: of who we are and what we can achieve through hard work, love for our children and the kindness of friends.

I continue to watch our services reach and grow, empowering more children, young adults and their families than ever.”

Karen Sorab, OBE

The story so far…


Our journey started in 2000 when a group of parents led by Founder, Karen Sorab, created The Rainbow Charity and Rainbow School with 3 pupils in temporary accommodation.


After a decade of growth in the schools which saw us expand to two sites, in 2011 we re-branded the charity to BeyondAutism. This was to reflect our ambition to exceed limits and empower autistic people to live independent lives.


With pupil numbers growing at our schools, we started to notice gaps in available provision. In 2016 we launched a pilot of our Post-19 service to support school leavers as well as the foundations of our Outreach and Training service. We also launched our 5-year strategy: Empowering People, Launching Lives.


Following a successful pilot, our Post-19 provision became a permanent service in 2017. In the same year we launched the first pilot of our Early Years’ service focusing on working with parents and children together. This became a permanent service in 2018.


In 2020 we changed our vision to “ensure autistic children and young adults access an education which empowers a life full of choice, independence and opportunity.” We also launched a new 5-year strategy reflecting our aspiration at an individual level, through education and developing skills, whilst also influencing attitudes, resources and institutions more broadly in society. The following year in 2021 we launched our Lunch and Learn webinar series as well as holding our first Professional Conference broadening our reach beyond those accessing our services.


After the national increase in school exclusions, in 2022 we piloted a Fast Responder service to support schools, preventing school placement breakdown. BeyondAutism Fast Responder® then became a permanent service at the start of the 2023-24 academic year.

Registered Charity No. 1082599. Registered in England and Wales Ltd by guarantee No. 4041459 Registered Office: Ashurst LLP, London Fruit & Wool Exchange, 1 Duval Square, London, E1 6PW