National Leading Autism Campaigner & Ambassador for Autism, Kevin Healey, is outraged by the system that is currently not supporting people with Autism. This has resulted in many individuals being sent hundreds of miles away from their loved ones and therefore destroying families. The system is simply not geared up for Adults with Autism.
Kevin Healey has been campaigning since December 2013 on behalf of both the Dyer Family in Wales and Leo Andrade-Martinez from London; both of these families have an adult on the autistic spectrum who has been sent hundreds of miles away from their home and city.
Kevin Healey said:
“I’m appalled that these parents are suffering on a daily basis in not having access to their children and it’s heartbreaking for all of them, because they can’t see their families. The Dyers have to travel a 10 hour round trip to see Claire who is locked away alone and isolated from her family.”
Claire’s mum, Catherine said:
“Claire is our autistic 20 year old daughter. She has been on MHA Section 3 since last September, but despite this had been home with us 262 times out of 325 days. Her behaviour was far worse in the unit that she was in. She has been in the community with us loads – shopping, walking the dog along Swansea sea front, in Cardiff, swimming in the LC2 and with an NAS group, meeting friends, even doing the race for life in Swansea on July 27th.
Unfortunately a high court judge ruled on August 1 that despite being very sympathetic to the situation, that Claire would have to go to a medium secure hospital in Brighton, 5 hours away, as the professionals all felt that this is what she needed, against her and our wishes.
It’s so distressing that despite her being home daily, she is now only entitled to a 2 hour supervised visit weekly, which means a 10 hour round trip for us. She phones 4 or 5 times daily and is desperate to get home to us. We all miss her desperately, and her sister and brother can’t understand how this could have happened to her.
We just want our daughter to be happy, and have the life that she deserves and was promised – a bespoke placement to be ready by October 2013. Not locked up hours away from her family, friends and community where she is heartbroken “
Leo Andrade-Martinez from Islington, London, is mum to Stephen 19, who has severe autism and was placed into a psychiatric Hospital in Northampton, which is 80 miles from their Islington home. Stephen at present is in a self-harming ward, not an autism specialist unit and as Leo clearly states; this is not acceptable, he has autism, he is not mentally ill. What is particularly heartbreaking is that Stephen has no social life; he is locked up 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Leo has to travel to Northampton; it should be care in the community as we are in the 21st century. This simply shouldn’t be happening, these adults need the correct provision and support, and because the system can’t deal with them, they get locked up like criminals, they are not! They are autistic with needs.
“My son has been at the hospital for 19 months and is treated as if he is either mentally ill or a criminal. He is under the Mental Health Act. He has no quality of life, no freedom. He is locked up 24/7 and is on heavy antipsychotic medication and sedatives, so that they don’t have to deal with his behaviour. So I say, enough is enough! I am calling on Norman Lamb.
If my son is not having a good day or is unsettled they won’t take him out into the grounds, this is a huge space which Stephen would love. He goes for weeks and months without going outside into the grounds. For the past 15 months he has not been taken out into the community, we only get to see him once a week, for only two hours, and sometimes when we arrive for the two hour visit they won’t even allow that. They say to us, ‘only for a few minutes’ or tell us to leave”
Kevin Healey is calling for the Wales Minister, Mark Drakeford and the Minister for England, Norman Lamb, to take urgent action on these two cases. However this is just the tip of the iceberg as there are many other similar cases happening across the country. National campaigner Kevin Healey set up both Catherine’s and Leo’s petitions on change.org and they have attracted over 60,000 signatures.