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The Orwellian Present – Never Mind the Future.

‘Just off the coast of Autonomy, across the Bay of Good Intentions, lies the fog shrouded Isle of Best Interests’.
If you have arrived at this blog today looked for cheer and sympathy for your woes – snow bound, central heating boiler broken down, redundancy imminent, then I am sorry for you – but you would be better off elsewhere.
My post today concerns a young man who needs our help and support.
Stephen Neary is a 20 year old man with Autism trapped in a Kafkaesque nightmare.
It is a story that should be trumpeted from the front page of every main stream newspaper – but it won’t be. They will keep silent.
Autism is a ‘broad’ word, describing a wide spectrum of conditions with defining characteristics involving a difficulty in communicating with other people, and a restricted range of activities and interests. It can range from the mild to the profound. It is most definitely NOT a mental illness.
Some of those on the milder end of the Autistic spectrum are able to operate in ‘our’ world with relative ease, by choosing occupations such as computer programming where the ability to concentrate on repetitive tasks and not to be distracted by idle chatter is highly prized – almost certainly the software that allows you to read this post involved people who might be diagnosed as ‘Autistic’ – many of our greatest composers and artistes have been autistic so it is a mistake to see the condition as an entirely negative attribute.
Some autistic individuals suffer from an inability to empathise – to see their actions as other ‘might’ see them. They only see their own factual intention in those actions.
It follows, therefore, that those with autism find it easier to function in a familiar environment, where those who surround them can take an understanding view of their actions and utterances.
Stephen lived in such an environment, with his single parent Father, Mark Neary. One story will serve to illustrate the value of Mark’s long expertise in understanding Stephen’s unique thought process.
Together they watched an episode of Mr Bean, where Mr Bean put the Christmas Turkey on his head. They both laughed. Stephen likes to see his Father laugh. He promptly disappeared to the kitchen, and his Father figured out his probable pattern of thinking just in time to prevent the family’s freshly roasted Christmas Turkey being forced over his head….Stephen certainly couldn’t live alone without support.
Finding himself in a situation where others ‘misconstrue’ his actions makes Stephen agitated and frustrated, for he can’t express himself or understand that there might be more than one interpretation of his actions.
One cold winter’s day, Stephen’s father succumbed to the flu. Genuine flu – you don’t suffer from ‘Man Flu’ when you are a full time single parent carer. He rang his local authority’s respite centre, where Stephen had been once before, to ask if they could look after him for three days.  They could.
At the end of that first day in respite, despite the fact that Stephen had been there many times before, the staff felt themselves ‘unable to cope with Stephen’. He was aware that his Father was ill and upset at being separated from him. The respite centre transferred him to the ominously named ‘Positive Behaviour Unit’.
Now the Positive Behaviour Unit is a mighty politically correct place. Tap someone on the shoulder to attract their attention, and they don’t think ‘that is how Stephen has always attracted my attention since he was a child’ – they say – ‘he touched me, that is an assault’ and promptly record it in their daily log…..
When Stephen’s Father went to collect him after three days, they had logged many such ‘assaults’ – and announced that they were retaining Stephen for ‘assessment’. No! His Father couldn’t take him home.
There is no danger of Stephen being ‘sectioned’ under the Mental Health Act, for Autism is not a mental illness and not covered by that Act.
However, there is another, newer piece of legislation which does cover those who ‘may be at risk of harming themselves’. It is known in shorthand as DOLs. Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards. It applies to hospitals and care homes and describes the circumstances under which they can – not ‘lock someone up’, for that is the province of the Mental Health Act – but turn the key in the lock and not give that key to someone ‘in their best interests’……it is a fine piece of legalese that may leave you baffled.
The ‘best interests’ requirement:
(1) The relevant person meets the best interests requirement if all of the following conditions are met.
(2)The first condition is that the relevant person is, or is to be, a detained resident.
(3)The second condition is that it is in the best interests of the relevant person for him to be a detained resident.
(4)The third condition is that, in order to prevent harm to the relevant person, it is necessary for him to be a detained resident.
(5)The fourth condition is that it is a proportionate response to—(a)the likelihood of the relevant person suffering harm, and(b)the seriousness of that harm, for him to be a detained resident.
It certainly left Stephen baffled, for he could no more get through that locked door than if he had been ‘locked up’ under the Mental Health Act.
The longer they kept Stephen behind that locked door, away from his Father, the more upset he became, the more people he tapped on the shoulder to ask when he might be allowed home again…..eventually the ‘Positive Behaviour Unit’ had logged 306 such incidents over a seven month period, and decided that Stephen’s behaviour was ‘so challenging’ that he could never be allowed to return home.
Despite the fact that by this time the unhappy Stephen had been assessed as ‘extremely challenging’ – too ‘dangerous’ to be returned to his Fathers care, Stephen, unattended by these ‘professional behaviour managers’  managed to slip out of the Unit, in his pyjamas, and attempted to return home. During the course of this futile flight, he met up with a Vicar – and according to one report, removed his glasses ‘aggressively’. The authorities are unable to even name the Vicar, far less file a report from him.
Now comes the interesting bit – thank-you for reading this far!
Whilst Stephen lived happily at home, he had the support of professional carers from the ‘Trinity Noir’ company. Stephen’s father was very happy with the level of support and had no complaints. The Local Authority footed the bill, as is their legal duty. Changing Stephen’s diagnosis from “autism, severe learning difficulties and challenging behaviour”, to “extreme challenging behaviour, learning difficulties and possible autistic spectrum disorder” may seem hair splitting to my readers, but on such finite definitions rest the liability to pay for Stephen.
The new diagnosis could shift the responsibility for care onto the NHS Primary Care Trust…..the current suggestion is that Stephen is ‘sent to a care home in Wales’, many miles from his home in London, who will ‘assess the reasons behind his behaviour’ – I would think most of my readers will have figured out for themselves by now the reasons for his behaviour. He wants to go home! His Father wants him to go home!
Those of you with a modicum of legal knowledge will be saying ‘but surely he can get legal representation and go before the mental health tribunal – I’ve read about cases like that?’
No, he can’t, he has no access to the Mental Heath Tribunal – Autism isn’t a mental illness. This action isn’t being taken under the Mental Health Act – it is being taken under the Mental Capacity Act. Under the MCA he only has access to a ‘Best Interests Assessor’ – who is appointed on a consultancy basis, and paid, by…..the Local Authority.
He can be deprived of his liberty for up to a year, which period can be renewed indefinitely, for the purpose of ‘assessing’ him – see above – being sent to Wales to ‘assess’ why he is unhappy at being locked up.
The only Court to which he has access – purely for ‘appeal’ purposes, is our old friend, the secretive Court of Protection. Assuming that Stephen can figure out how to make an application to the Court and represent himself….
As it happens, the Local Authority have already done that, not on Stephen’s behalf, but on their own behalf. They wish to have a full ‘Welfare Deputyship’ so that there will be no awkward parent demanding the return of their child – and his support package. It will be their decision where he lives.
Remember, Stephen only went into respite care for three days, that was last December. Almost a year ago to the day.
His distress at being parted from his Father has been treated as ‘challenging behaviour’. His attempts to escape have been treated as ‘a risk to himself and others’, including his Father. (The risk to others is no part of the Mental Capacity Act!)
After next week, no one will be able to write of Stephen’s case. It will vanish behind the stone walls of the Court of Protection. Just one more file.
You can help by giving this case as much publicity as possible over the next few days.
You can sign the petition demanding he be returned to his family. (Currently 2,286 signatures).
You can write of Stephen’s case on your own blog.
If you still have time to spare, might I suggest that you write to whichever Daily Newspaper you read and ask them why their pages are full of tittle tattle from illegally released diplomatic cables – and yet they can never find the space to illustrate true injustices happening to a British citizen right under their noses?

{ 236 comments }
Dr Ju GoslingJanuary 12, 2011 at 12:32
 

I am Co Chair of Regard, the national LGBT disabled people’s organisation, and we have also had horrendous experience of the Mental Capacity Act being used to detain a disabled person against their will when they had previously been living in the community with the support of the local authority. This also had the ‘benefit’ of transferring funding to the NHS. By the time the local authority accepted they were wrong, the ‘care’ of the person concerned was the province of the NHS who refused to release them. We tried every legal avenue without success. Sue died almost a year ago, having spent her last few months in a hospice. See http://www.regard.org.uk/sueslaw.htm for more details
duncan mcintyreDecember 24, 2010 at 17:05
yep yep yep
Lorene AmetDecember 23, 2010 at 20:07
Many thanks for posting on this very distressing experience and sharing the link to the petition. Please keep us posted on developments. Did the press cover the case?
Mary KateDecember 23, 2010 at 01:41
If the son had stayed at this home before and the father was please with his care…then why was it different this time? We should thank places like this that take care of our children when we can’t. Where would this poor child have gone otherwise? His behavior was different and more difficult to manage than his prior stays. It sounds like all of the professionals were just trying to do a thorough job.
robbietheredDecember 23, 2010 at 02:39
You are wrong on more points I can personally be bothered arguing about, Mary. Just do your research before you flout out at the mouth.

Sorry but that is probably the most respect I can rationally give you.
MarkDecember 29, 2010 at 14:11
Mary – I am Steven’s father. I dont compare Steven’s two stays at the unit. One the first occassion in 2007, he was pretty ill when he went there and it later became clear that it was a result of a developmental crisis. Suffice to say, he was there for genuine reasons and after four months of a fairly positive experience, he was much better. This year has been totally different because it started with a lie. And in my view, when something is based on a lie it cant possibly have a positive outcome. As the months went by and we became more and more entrenched in those awful deprivation of liberty orders, anything positive about the experience flew out the window. Thankfully the judge terminated the DoL and the dreadful experience ended.
kathleenDecember 22, 2010 at 23:57
Hi-I would really like permission to post this article in its entirety on an autism blogs directory that I co run with another person. I have tweeted it-but think I could reach more people by posting it. Thanks, Kathleen

http://www.autismblogsdirectory.blogspot.com/
Anna RaccoonDecember 22, 2010 at 17:44
See the latest update: http://www.annaraccoon.co.uk/politics/hurrah-for-common-sense/

Steven will be home for Christmas – it took a year, but Steven’s father won in the end!
Deborah GillespieDecember 22, 2010 at 16:44
I have only just got to read this article as my pc crashed and has only just been returned. I too would like to know the outcome of this disgraceful and disgusting, inhumane treatment of Steven and his father. I’m a single parent of a 7 year old daughter with autism and the thought of something like this ever being allowed to happen in this country and in this day and age scares me to death!

I am SO angry at this i just wish i could do something to get him home asap! As i’m late with this i don’t know if i can make any difference but will certainly spread this to any contacts i have.

They are the ones that need locking up. I hope to god SOMEONE can make a difference and get Steven home NOW!

Just what the hell is going on???
robbietheredDecember 22, 2010 at 17:34
Deborah,
Steven has been released, please look at the other later articles by Anna Raccoon.
Good to know there’s people like you that are concerned though, may I thank you on behalf of everybody.
Linda SmythDecember 22, 2010 at 16:37
Absolutely Terrifying!!
Kukui AwanaDecember 22, 2010 at 15:53
Trying to figure out which part is the worst:
1. That this has happened in an advanced democracy
2. That such a shameful injustice has been ignored by the mainstream media
3. That in a ever more connected world, the public attention is focused more keenly on the travails of Lindsay Lohan than on issues of genuine importance
I’m not British, though if I were, I’d be ashamed of my government for allowing this to happen. As it were, I’m ashamed of my government for a whole different set of reasons…
David N. Andrews M. Ed., C. P. S. E.December 23, 2010 at 09:27
I am British and I am totally mortified that the Government has enacted the piece of … legislation … that allows this sort of injustice to happen. Sadly, when politicians screw things up, there’s no redress against them.
That is absolutely sick.
alDecember 22, 2010 at 06:14
I’m so glad we moved back to the states.
robbietheredDecember 22, 2010 at 04:45
Agreed.
They’re ALL REET SHYSTERRS!
Not very funny, I’ll admit, but it’s my way of lightening things.
(Begorrah!)
AlleDecember 21, 2010 at 22:59
The computer said that this is in the best interests. The ‘Social Worker’ reading the computer has a reason to beleive that this is in his best interests. If anyone asks Steven or his father what they want and why in the previous 20 years there was no issue, then they’d have a reason to not beleive, so their wish to beleive is far more important because it employs so many people and enables the LA to demand more funds for the ‘seroius deprvation’ in their area.
Is it any wonder when yoou read the ‘Devrevation index’ but can’t find a ‘prosperity index’ – when will the ‘care’ system stop being a ‘non-exit’ follower of statute that was designed to help in extreme situtions and NOT to be the basis of entering into a situation.
Sigh
SandyDecember 15, 2010 at 18:10
Hi,

This you posted this on 6th December and stated the decision would be made after a week from then. Is there any update? I’ve trawled the net but can’t find any news on the outcome! Hoping it was a good result for Stephen and his family!
TheMotherDecember 12, 2010 at 23:44
This case is appalling and reflects the way that the ‘power that be’ think they can control individual lives.
Don’t forget to join the facebook group ‘Get Steven Home’ – while people are still legally allowed to discuss it.
Isaac BarkwayDecember 12, 2010 at 22:16
Absolutely disgusted…
yet this is just one of hundreds of stupid, unnessicary flaws in the british legal system.
LyndaDecember 12, 2010 at 12:42
how do I sign
SadButMadLadDecember 12, 2010 at 14:19
Click here then click the “Sign the Get Steven Home” button and add your name and email address and any optional comment. By default, your email address is kept private.
LyndaDecember 12, 2010 at 12:41
when I started to read this I thought it was in some country far away LONDON !!!! what expertise do these people have to make this judgement
markDecember 12, 2010 at 00:31
It has nothing to do with Orwell or big brother, and everything to do with Tocqueville and Big Nanny. Orwell is Kim il Sung and North Korea. Tocqueville is the smiling social worker and US
Kylie (kykaree on twitter)December 11, 2010 at 22:39
I do hope there is a solution, surely there must be something that can be done, its outrageous.
This young man needs his family.
MICHAEL PROCTORDecember 11, 2010 at 16:55
I can’t help thinking any Goverment when it sees the Mental Health stats growing in all areas get concerned that it starts to reflect on them………..so something has to be done……………….
BWCDecember 11, 2010 at 16:45
Wow, this is ludicrous.
Margaret RamsayDecember 11, 2010 at 14:19
How sad!! What an injustice…………as mother of a 24 year old son with Aspergers Syndrome I understand how everything can be misconstrued. I was saddened when I read the article, knowing that this could very well have been my own story. We plead for help and before we know it our children are taken from us and left in distress. Originally 3 days in a care home and now they are trying to give him a life sentence!! This is surely against his Human Rights. I will give this enough publicity as possible and pray that someone somewhere is listening and cares enough to do something about it!!
scottDecember 11, 2010 at 02:21
this article reminds me of some of my own fears of such circumstances. having had a loved one in the “Positive Behaviour Unit” I feared for my own self as a visitor walking into a room where someone else controls the key. and after the hospital falsely accused me of everything from abuse to abandonment and threatened legal action, as a visitor i feared for my own freedom as they didn’t have to let me out. and as my loved one was admitted over several years the “permanent record” in the”Positive Behaviour Unit” had every thing i said and did from the first visit years prior (like cutting up her dinner). it has been six years and i am still “paying” for what there actions put into motion. i sympathize with both father and son.
WatersheddDecember 11, 2010 at 02:19
Well for what it may be worth, I have posted a contact on http://ukhumanrightsblog.com/contact-2/#contact-form-172 in the hopes that someone there will be able to assist. Now I’m over to the petition, Facebook and to email my brother in the UK. He has an autistic child. I wish there was more we could do.
TruthfulnessDecember 11, 2010 at 00:59
This misses the point. The new Deprivation of Liberty ‘Safeguards’ are a scandal because they create a parallel Mental Health Act, with none of those pesky protections for the person detained.
A person detained under the DoLS is entitled to an ‘independent’ advocate … paid for by the authority that detained them, and selected by the authority that detained them. Their only real avenue of appeal is to the Court of Protection – a Court that sits in secret.
Just to be really kafka-esque the legislation does not even define what ‘Deprivation of Liberty’ means which allows local authorities to lock people up and simply claim their liberties are ‘restricted’.
It is a scandal of our times.
Peter PalladasDecember 12, 2010 at 13:12
Quite. The purpose, wording and practice of the Act are a scandal. But nothing accidental: all was intended by a Government adept at blundering its way in haste to an evidence-free policy, then proclaiming it to be the logical, necessary, heaven-sent solution to the nation’s ills.
All is self-referential within a closed system that supports and endorses its own choices and decisions. Even the crucial and central assessment of mental capacity has that fatal flaw.
The MCA only has any application if it can be established that the person lacks the mental capacity to take a particular decision. Without such an assessment there can be no arbitrary ‘best interest’ determinations.
The MCA requires that it is the person intending to act in the best interest of the person who must undertake the test of mental capacity, using a well-established in law ‘information exchange’ model. But immediately there is the wide-open door of possible bias.
I believe that ‘x’ is best for you. You tell me that you agree and I applaud your capacity to see – my – sense. But if you disagreee with me, am I not therefore likely to contend that you lack capacity? This is not to make snide comment on professional unprofessionalism, but to acknowledge that there lacks true independence and objectivity in the process.
This is one of the most Kafkaesque qualities of the MCA, or perhaps better its central Catch-22: if you want to do what I suggest you are capable but compliant; but if you don’t want to do what I suggest then you are incapable and captive.
With the DoL process it becomes even more bizarre. The ‘best interest’ assessor is no longer the person proposing to take the action – despite this being a statutory requirement within the primary MCA as enacted in 2005 – but is now a third-party specialist with no direct connection to the action to be taken.
Whereas that might seem to redress the balance of objectivity, it fails because the person who undertakes that DoL determination of ‘best interest’ is, more often than not, an officer within the Council or NHS body proposing to deprive someone of their liberty. That then puts an enormous burden on the assessor to dare to contradict the professional opinion of colleagues. (Having worked for and with Councils in social care for nearly 30 years, I am in a position to tell you that is not an easy place to be.)
Where then does one look for a monitoring, regulatory or appeals body to oversee the exercise of power under the MCA, in general and in particular cases? Not to a ‘Mental Capacity Tribunal’ for no such body exists. Not to the Care Quality Commission, whose inspection remit does not cover the MCA or Dols.
The only recourse of appeal is to the Court of Protection – the very court established to make the MCA work. Under-resourced, under-funded and under-prepared, the re-established CoP – which prior to the MCA dealt only with matters of finance for people lacking mental capacity – is charged with ruling on the very Act that brought it into being. (That on top of the crushing burden of trying to support the Office of the Public Guardian in its floundering efforts to manage and regulate Enduring Power of Attorney applications and appeals.)
It is all a mess: initiated in haste to react to ‘Bournewood’, inexpertly designed with failure built in, promoted by hype, spin and downright lies and operated ineptly by agencies, by and large, perfectly content to exercise power where it is given.
David N. Andrews M. Ed., C. P. S. E.December 23, 2010 at 09:24
Seems to me that the MCA is an Act that should not be. There are no proper safeguards, it seems. And there are no good excuses for the Government having passed this piece of legislation.
“The purpose, wording and practice of the Act are a scandal. But nothing accidental: all was intended by a Government adept at blundering its way in haste to an evidence-free policy, then proclaiming it to be the logical, necessary, heaven-sent solution to the nation’s ills.”
For this reason alone, the Government should be having to defend its actions in the European Court of Human Rights.
Jenny FrancisDecember 11, 2010 at 00:06
This is appalling but sadly all too common. It is not unusual for people with personality problems and difficulties like Stephen’s to be mis-classified when they should not be classified at all. Local authorities both need to save money so are glad to transfer such problems to alternative sources of funding, ie within the Health service or under the MCA as described above and have inadequate resources and understanding of such situations. In a way they base their reactions on Health and Safety legislation ostensibly protecting Stephen’s father and others concerned for him and his well-being. They have totoally overlooked his human rights which should guarantee Stephen the right to an independent life etc etc. Why has nobody written to his MP? Or appealed to the International Court at the Hague?
shellyDecember 10, 2010 at 23:57
wrong so wrong
MattDecember 10, 2010 at 22:49
I’m ashamed of the country of my birth. I can’t comprehend the insanity that seems to exist in social Services, Court of Protection or the Family Courts.

Where on earth will reform come from?
Dominic de MattosDecember 10, 2010 at 18:44
I am spluttering with outrage.
I will add my voice in whatever way I can.
helenDecember 10, 2010 at 18:19
Positive Behaviour Support? I think NOT!!

Shameful
Jean DavisonDecember 10, 2010 at 14:42
This is so shocking and sad. How can the authorities possibly believe that this is in anyone’s best interest? I do hope Stephen soon returns home to his father where he belongs. I’ve signed the petition.
Sue CookDecember 10, 2010 at 14:17
This is outrageous Orwellian craziness. Where is plain basic commonsense in all this? As you say – the solution is glaringly obvious. Let him go back to his father. And then by all means monitor the situation, but sensitively. For Chrissake!!! Despairingly…
Ann RobertDecember 10, 2010 at 12:51
Well said! Cheyl, Katherine, Pammy, and Sheila ,
I have experience of working with local authorities with my autistic son and there is one thing I have noticed, in their eagerness to ‘help’ they more often than not don’t bother to listen to the mother or father of the child/young adult concerned. They just view people as ‘cases’ and just want to put labels on them and’ file’ them away in some instituion or another, because it makes life easier for them. The people who live with an autistic person know them best and therefore should be considered the expert on ‘the case’. Having said that, local authorities differ all over the country, and there are very many wonderful people who work tirelessly and give much more than they have to, to help people with these problems.

It is tragic situation for Stephen because autisic people need familar people and familiar surroundings around them in order to thrive. It is quite simply not right that Stephen be removed from a loving home and parent to be’ institutionalised’ in this inhumane way, just because his dad became ill. This is absolutely outrageous that in our so-called ‘civilised’ country, Our people’s civil rights are being abused right under our noses!
PammyDecember 10, 2010 at 10:16
Working for many years in an educational setting specialising in ASD, I sadly know all too well of these Respite Services. Also know how often we shudder when over stretched under trained young so short on life experiences land on a *case*..Human Being to you and I.
What I’m most proud of where I work is where we use well honed skills laced with bags of common sense. I get hurt often as work mostly with profound pupils. What I know for certain is this. If a support worker in what ever capacity doesn’t bother to use or be trained in Intensive Interaction and Social Stories, how can they ever hope to gain any kind of insight in how an INDIVIDUAL communicates.
What I would like to clarify though is that anybody with ASD can at any point develop Mental Health problems and or already have another debilitating condition.
The best way to ever understand anybody on the Autistic Spectrum is actually no different from you or I. Know everything possible about the INDIVIDUAL. They can’t be fixed, there is no cure. There is only a need to be understood and enabled to function as best suits their needs.
Poor lad and Dad. I love my vocation. I prefer to make not break. I’m ashamed of that group of *Professionals*.
Sheila MackayDecember 10, 2010 at 09:01
Why does this still go on? Will people never listen?

This story touched me as it has with others especially now. I have a 17 yr old son with the diagnosis of Aspergers Syndrome and am in constant debate with myself over asking for him to be reassessed. Our local authority have changed the criteria for supporting people with learning disabilities. They now only offer services for people with LD and Autistic Spectrum Conditions but not Aspergers! If I pursue the matter, there are no services anyway. If I ask for an assessment, he will be referred to a team of people who are not trained to understand Aspergers or Autism.

Many times, my son’s behaviour has been misinterpreted

There are already notes in print on his files about his “challenging behaviour” in the past despite him now being a very polite, quiet and obliging person. He’s happy. He lives with me, his step dad and sister in a home where he is loved, supported and can relax. Is it any wonder parents continue to manage and keep quiet?

I am so moved by this story that I’m struggling to write more but will absolutely support and share with our Autism network and connections.
katherine HuntDecember 10, 2010 at 06:30
Poor Stephen and his Dad!!!! My autistic boy loves being at home and i dont want to imagine something like this could happen!! Life is scarey enough when you live within the ‘special needs’ bubble!!

Austim is so misunderstood and there should be changes within all settings to educate people on it as diagnosis rates are growing rapidly!!
EmmaDecember 10, 2010 at 06:07
It sounds like a very sad situation. It would be interesting to hear the full situation though, as this appears to be only one account.
Graham KennedyDecember 10, 2010 at 00:04
Just unbelieveable….actually, completely believeable…how awfully they have treated Stephen & his family. The ignorance displayed here is completely baffling. Good luck….to Stephen and his Dad
Hazel CameronDecember 9, 2010 at 21:17
This is a shocking story and I have signed the petition…however, the piece is much reduced by your comment at the end – wikileaks being illegal tittle tattle – have you bothered to read the cables and look further into this gross injustice? What has happened with wikileaks affects every person who believes in the truth and access to it, and as someone who is trying to highlight another injustice, I would have thought that would have been one of your priorities.
Wishing well to Stephen and his father.
Hannah FrameDecember 9, 2010 at 20:37
i’ve written to the Hillingdon times about it, maybe if more people do they might write about it?
To contact the Hillingdon Times please call or email:

Group editor

Rachel Sharp

020 8359 5959

rsharp@london.newsquest.co.uk
David SimcockDecember 9, 2010 at 18:22
This is reminiscent of what used to happen sometimes to children who were accomodated by the local authority at the request of the parent(s) because of some family crisis, never to return home again. Thankfully those days are long gone (I know, I’m a social worker) but it seems it is now happening with adults. Very sad. Fight it Mr. Neary – he’s your son, you know him best.
ObiterJDecember 9, 2010 at 18:11
GREAT item.
I hope this post on my blog Law and Lawyers helps:-
http://obiterj.blogspot.com/2010/12/deprivation-of-liberty-worrying-case-of.html
One would hope that a high profile writer (e.g. the estimable Afua Hirsch or Joshua Rozenberg of The Guardian – Law) might look into these matters.
Anne CDecember 9, 2010 at 17:39
I cannot believe that in this day and age they can treat a person like this. What about civil liberties, this is big brother gone mad, this young man must be returned to his loving family .
Marshall BuckleyDecember 9, 2010 at 15:49
This has made me so angry I have been tweeting it all day, asking people to read this and sign the petition. I have also been trying to get the attention of the media via various Twitter contacts.

Hopefully this will be seen by people at The Guardian and The Independent, among others, and maybe they will raise the profile of this situation.

The London Borough of Hillingdon should be ashamed.
Alexandria GibbsDecember 9, 2010 at 14:44
I am 46 years old and was diagonised with this condition two years ago I can fit in but tend to stay away this is terrible i manage with people i know well and understand me but i do get stressed if things go wrong i have a carrer in t he arts so am just thought of as excentric i will blog this as much as i can
bright blessings

alexandria
Tottie LimejuiceDecember 9, 2010 at 14:16
Such an appalling story and brilliantly written. I don’t know how a similar situation would be dealt with here in France but I do know, from my own experience with a 93 year old mother with dementia, and an alcoholic brother, that the family are always closely consulted on all medical and welfare matters. And with none of the constraints of the anal patient confidentiality clauses of the UK. Doctors discuss with me in detail the ins and outs of them both and how their welfare interacts with mine. I may be wrong and naive but I find it incredible that the views of Stephen’s father, let alone Stephen himself, are not taken into consideration.
And legally speaking, if this were, for instance, a bail application, antecedents would be considered. And as Stephen would appear to have no history of any “challenging behaviour” when at home with his father, this too would be taken into consideration in making a judgment to return him to the loving home where he obviously feels safe and secure.
I sincerely hope something can be done to rectify this situation without further delay.
CherylDecember 9, 2010 at 12:53
We also have an Autistic son and I fully understand that actions can be misinterpreted from personal experiences when our sons behaviour has been miscontrued but surely it’s obvious that Stephen is happy at home? I don’t understand why these so called ‘experts’ can’t understand that, routine & familiarity is a key component to handling Autism.

It infuriates me everytime a professional demands an at-home appointment to sit in our house for hours on end, telling us where we are going wrong with our son and how best to handle his Autism, most of their ‘knowledge’ comes from a book.

This is the exact reason we have always refused respite care and will continue to do so in the future.

Good luck, I hope Stephen gets to go home, I cannot imagine the fear he must be feeling and the heartache his father is going through. I have signed the petition.
Paula LewisDecember 9, 2010 at 12:37
This is horrendously sad, I really feel for you Jayne, Stephen and the rest of the family. This should not be happening.
Christine MurrayDecember 9, 2010 at 12:18
hopes and wishes with ye all
stephen d’italiaDecember 9, 2010 at 12:13
omg a friend sent me this to read i am totally shocked how a bunch of primative people could act that way saying stephen is dangerous to all and his father. i know many people who have autism and they are human beings not animals that get locked up. the people who are not allowing stephen to be with his dad are not civilised lets lock them up and throw away the darn key. to stephen and his father mark from all of us in my state and all over the world we will all pray for you both. god bless stephen and mark neary. ill get my town paper reporter read this
Sheila JasperDecember 9, 2010 at 10:33
OMG!!! As a mother of a mild Asperger son, this has reduced me to tears! This is outrageous. Is the National Autistic Trust aware of this, if not, they will be now as I’m emailing them! They have just managed to get an Act done regarding Autistic Adults, so maybe there is something in there that could be used. I’m posting this whereever I can and will sign the petition.
Afterall, my son could well be put in this position later in his life – I’m appalled!!!!!
anitaDecember 9, 2010 at 10:24
Stephens case needs to be if it has not already been referred as urgent to the Local Authority Serious Case Review board. They are a team of experts from all sectors who know about DoLs, Safeguarding and legislation.
Push to get the case in to SCR asap.
robin vespignaniDecember 9, 2010 at 09:45
The Civilised world….. where!? signed! hope this may help
Richard TaylorDecember 9, 2010 at 06:27
My understanding is that everyone in England has access to the English Legal System and ultimately that can involve going to the High Court to seek an injunction preventing a certain activity by anyone… including the Police, medical practitioners… whoever.
Of course there is expense involved. You need a lawyer and barrister to work out the case “under the law” – but it could be as simple as a a writ of Habeas Corpus – he’s not a criminal, he’s not mentally ill, therefore under the European Convention on Human Rights there is no reason for continued detention.
Any UK barristers/lawyers reading this and up for some pro-bono?
I bet the papers would cover that.
Mrs Pat LawrenceDecember 9, 2010 at 06:09
This is such a very sad situation!!!!! Care gone mad!!!!! The way Stephens been treated is positively Dickension!!! Something has to be done, Please God send some sanity to this situation!! Stephen and his dad are in my prayers, God bless you both.
karenDecember 9, 2010 at 00:32
Jesus this is so sad,absolutley heartbreak ,im in ireland but il post it on my page.ur in my prayers
robbietheredDecember 8, 2010 at 22:38
Indeed.
The system has become at once dehumanised and dehumanising in its effects.

It is alien to the human race in its ideology and behavior. As is stated above by somebody, we and this current system of society may as well be banal, ignoble animals that forsake or mistreat the weak or those that do not fit in to a certain mould.
It has gone too far, much too far. It has no business involving itself in family life and private life nor removing liberty, in cases like this where understanding and compassion instead are needed. Too many people reading too many modern, ill informed and impractical theories and making a career out of meddling with others’ lives and interfering with families that are better off without them. Human nature and its spontaneous ways are being crushed.
Revd. Dr. Edward BatyDecember 8, 2010 at 22:18
It seems that those involved have forgotten that being politically correct is defined in terms of politics, regardless of any other incorrectnesses.
This saga is not just “Orwellian” but remarkably daft as well. Where is the care for suffering humanity in all these precedures?
Rebecca TriggsDecember 8, 2010 at 21:23
The problem is that good old fashion common sense seems to be ignored nowadays – its the old “political correctness gone mad” thing. I hope everything gets sorted so that this lad can get home back to his dad where he belongs
Tony OsgoodDecember 8, 2010 at 19:45
So much for Valuing People. So much for Positive Behaviour Support. So much for quality. Shameful.
mannieDecember 8, 2010 at 19:26
DIRTY BLOODY SHAME!!!
Treat you like a CharlieDecember 8, 2010 at 19:13
I am getting somewhat sick and tired of the undeserved deferences to, and the implied superiority afforded to, what are termed “Professionals” in some of these issues.

The word implies, but ONLY implies, ethical behaviour and competence brought on by education in a certain subject. What it really means at its core is that they work for MONEY.

I’ve got degrees myself, but I’m getting sick of the arrogance, touchiness and petulance of those in social care and related jobs. You are dealing with people’s lives for fuck’s sake, stop pisspotting about with your greedy ambition, avarice and self protectionism.

Don’t pull the old chestnut out that I’m generalising and that I don’t recognise the dedication that you have and how many good people there are in your professions either, of course I know there are some. But the ship is guided by the tosspots., and they answer to the rotten legislation brought in by rotten politicians.

Professionals do NOT “love” the people they supposedly look after, and mental health in particular has a long history of sickening abuse and manipulation by those employed to do good for the patients . Oh sorry, “service users”.
If you care that much about people you’ll do it for nothing. Simples.
This is partly why I won’t and will never again work in this field, considering the horrors I’ve seen, in the UK and in this supposedly enlightened era. Even some people I’d originally have sworn were good, honest and kind, I’ve eventually discovered to be abusing their positions and often focussing on their own pockets and ambitions to the detriment of the happiness, freedoms and human rights of those they are employed to serve. Sorry but it DOES go on, and don’t let anyone pull the wool.
pam brandenDecember 8, 2010 at 19:05
These children and adults need help and care. The families need support to enable them to give the care this needs to by money and restbite time off to recharge themselves some just nee a good nights sleep.
Jan’etDecember 8, 2010 at 18:42
As I began reading this story, I thought surely this must have happened in some third world country where proper health care is non-existent. Perhaps I was correct on both counts… I am the mother of a 38 year-old autistic son who will never be able to live alone, but is functional. I am stunned to think that, but for the grace of God, I could have been in a similar situation with him. Petition signed, this article is being re-posted on FB and anywhere else I can think of to get the word out about the horribly unfair treatment of this young man.
Jon SadlerDecember 8, 2010 at 18:36
How mad can we get? Get the lad back to his father and stop being silly. This is intrusive nonsense. Where next with this kind of stuff? My eldest is autistic and he is best catered for in a caring and loving family environment.
Stuart OwenDecember 8, 2010 at 18:13
This is extremely unprofessional!

Where is P.O.V.A?

I demand common sense now because that poor lad wants to go home!
Jer O’BrienDecember 8, 2010 at 17:49
A fucking disgrace.What is the world coming to?
Keely WatsonDecember 8, 2010 at 17:46
Hope that this young man gets home to his dad real soon, good luck!
SabsDecember 8, 2010 at 17:42
This is an awful story- which could have been so different if simple common sense & reason had more application in the legal procedures concerning modern social care. I have just finished writing a paper on the MCA & DoL (focused on my local health authority, not this one) & my findings in general were that the safeguarding procedures are a positive step… when applied rationally, with common sense. Professionals need to take a step back, to familiarise themselves with everyone involved- although his father is obviously not being listened to, previous carers (eg. those from Trinity Noir) should be asked for evidence from their knowledge of Stephen.
I get the impression you feel there is a lack of understanding of the autistic spectrum among the professionals involved? You explain Stephen’s view of the world swiftly & succinctly- implying even a basic understanding of autism begins to give clues that Stephen’s apparent ‘challenging behaviour’ is not all it seems.
The fact that the Best Interests Assessor is independent of the Local Authority despite being commissioned by them is central to this: assessing & acting objectively is what they do, & if this is not the case, it is not to be sighed away- the benefits of the MCA depend on these independent assessors to highlight where a travesty of human rights, like this, is occurring.
Stephen may not be able to represent himself in Court, but he should have access to an advocate (such as an Independent Mental Capacity Advocate) who can. He certainly meets the criteria for the involvement of one.
Petition signed- this case shocked me. Once we have justice for Stephen, his story should be remembered; because the MCA & DoL legislation are there for good reasons, they are not the enemy. The enemy is the blind following of these protocols without taking a step back & looking at the whole situation holistically.
I agree with Mr M above. More details would answer alot of my questions- not only must this be set to rights, but it must be prevented from happening again, & in order to do this, the relevant PCT needs to know exactly where things went wrong.
orvismanDecember 8, 2010 at 17:36
Hello, I have an autistic son and this case is terrifying. If you do not have first hand experience of the way local authorities work, their lack of integrity, their underhandedness and their shameless exploitation of people’s vulnerabilities you would probably think this case is an exageration. I am afraid it rings all to true. I have signed the petition and urge you all to ask your firends to do likewise.
Boring but important. In local authority matters local councillors have more power than MPs. If you have not involved your local representative try and so so, ask him to raise the issue at council meetings. The Local Authority has to respond to him. Get him to ask questions. Go to the top, we involved Tony Blair and his wife in one of our fights with the council. Make a noise and make it big.
Good Luck
KittyDecember 8, 2010 at 17:33
I forgot to say. To be diagnosed, I had to go through the mental health services and be assessed by a panel of psychiatrists. So how the hell do they get from psychiatrist diagnosis to ‘this isnt a mental health problem.’ and surely he’d be in prison if they believed he was that dangerous. What they’re saying is bullcrap, this is another case of the government trying to get rid of what they see as a problem by locking us out of sight and out of mind. This exact thing happened to my uncle about 30 yrs ago and we’ve never seen him since, we lost him. We wont lose you, Stephen, we’ll get you back to your father safe and sound. Somehow, I pledge.
s.jonesDecember 8, 2010 at 17:30
Maybea minor point,buyt Idon’t think the petitioner should be commenting on the illegality – or otherwise – of the weakileaks papers.
BJDecember 8, 2010 at 20:37
Quite – I wonder if Anna would have included that off-putting remark if she realised that Wikileaks’ Julian Assange was arrested in the UK today on trumped up charges from the Swedish government (consensual sex during which a condom split, I kid you not!) – clearly under US pressure, as they’d previously planned to drop the charges. The US are now petitioning to have Assange transferred to US custody so they can try to think up a law he has broken!
Anna – if you or a media colleague decide in the coming weeks to publish a leaked memo from the ‘Positive Behaviour Unit’ to illustrate the injustice that has occurred in Stephen’s case, and are subsequently persecuted, your blog taken offline and smears spread about – I wonder if you might then reconsider your stance on the Wikileaks debacle.
KittyDecember 8, 2010 at 17:28
Signed and will be posting on facebook. Just read this story and am absolutely disgusted and ashamed with my countries government. Unless I’m mistaken, these people who’s care he had been taken into had had experience with him before – it should be on their records that this is his form of getting a persons attention and even if they don’t have it on record, it doesn’t take much to give his father a phone call. Myself and my younger brother are on the autistic spectrum aswell, him worse than me, god help anybody who tries to do that to him, there would be nothing left of the building! And me? I touch peoples hair as a sign of affection, friends, family, acquaintance, they’d probably lock me up in prison and force me to sign the sex offenders register. That’s how sick and twisted these people are.
KevinDecember 8, 2010 at 17:27
It’s so easy to “do the best” for someone you see as “just another case” rather than trying to see the bigger picture. I’m sure I would become agitated.

There must be some thing that can be done to put things right.

I just hope that it can be found before it’s too late.

Petition sighned
KeithDecember 8, 2010 at 17:11
An awful story. After a quick search around various news sites and services, I decided to send a shortened version of this sad story and a link to this URL to as many news services as I could find with a “Submit” button. Surely this needs wider circulation?
Kay CeeDecember 8, 2010 at 16:32
I really feel angry about this shambles. My nephew is Autistic and they do get a raw deal from a lot of ‘ professional ‘ organisations in this country. Why isn’t Autismn classed as a mental illness ? Unbelieveable ……
Nigel HarrisDecember 9, 2010 at 05:58
Dear Kay,
I am an Autistic adult. Autism is not classed as an ‘illness’ because it is not one. It is a Developmental disorder due to my brain being ‘differently wired’ from birth. It is not caused by action of disease of either body or mind, it is not ill-health. Autism is part of my very nature.
Regarding this ‘shambles’… it makes me very anxious to hear that such things can happen. I had no idea. However it is good to see all those who care, like your dear self. A big noise should be made about this sad situation. I am glad that somebody earlier suggested contacting the National Autistic Society also.
I will be signing the petition and linking this to my facebook page.
Stewart CowanDecember 8, 2010 at 16:31
Signed.
It seems to me that many people engaged in “serving” the public are too scared to do the right thing.
Alex MacNeilDecember 8, 2010 at 16:16
This defies every bit of common sense, and policy direction. To use deprivation of liberties in this situation is totally unethical. There are enough people like Stephen who do not have such loving parents or friends supporting them – god forbid Hillingdon has its way. If Stephen’s dad or anyone else wants support – contact me.
Mr MDecember 8, 2010 at 16:13
This is one of those stories that gets you angry…
BUT
It needs a little more explanation.
For example, what are the specific allegations? How would the other side present the story?
I have experienced state bureaucracy across the whole public sector but this just doesn’t tally with my experience of the majority of British human beings who work in the NHS.
If there is indeed a systemic issue with a given PCT then can’t you provide more concrete information so we can write to our MPs on the specific matter?
RichardDecember 8, 2010 at 16:02
There may be more to this that the long explanation above gives, but on the balance of what was said I’d support Stephen & his father against the bureaucracy taking over. The Local Authority also has much to gain if they are no longer funding Stephen.
mariaDecember 8, 2010 at 15:56
signed
Mandy WinterDecember 8, 2010 at 15:48
Shocked and appalled. I have an autistic daughter and this nightmareish situation has really shaken me. I thought it was par for the course that people are given all the support they need to remain at home wherever possible?
Joe WrigleyDecember 8, 2010 at 15:23
Petition signed and email the National Autistic Society to see if they can help. Maybe others could do the same, they might notice if more than one email is received…
Email: nas@nas.org.uk
tracyDecember 8, 2010 at 15:11
i have a son with adhd and dyslexia, although very different from autism i no how rediculous the system can be, the “proffesionals” just see thees humans as statistics and problems, it is disgusting, there really is not the support needed for the families who want to help there childrem, with my son i couldnt even get him help as school untill he was in high school and by then he was so far behind with learning that he just couldnt catch up, i hae signed the petition and really do wish these “professionals” would stop reading text books and listen to real people who lie with these disabilities every single day x
KimDecember 8, 2010 at 15:11
My son falls on the Autistic spectrum (so it is believed) although we are waiting for the final assessment and ‘label’ he will get. I can totally understand and empathise with this story because my son when I am ill cannot think of anything other than my illness. It occupies his mind totally and he will become easily frustrated or physically aggressive towards people for something completely unrelated if they have no knowledge of what is happening at home. We are very fortunate in that the school he attends are hugely supportive and tolerant of his needs. I think Stephen’s story shows us that we live in a completely politically correct gone mad society, where it is easier to lock up and not deal with issues facing some people than it is to stand proud and help raise awareness. My heart goes out to Stephen and his dad and I hope the powers that be haven’t caused the kind of damage that can’t be undone.
Steve WakeDecember 8, 2010 at 14:54
Private Eye has also taken up this story.
Good luck.
Anna FilinaDecember 8, 2010 at 14:40
It’s hard to understand the *whole* story based on one side. However, if he lived fine with his father before then he’ll probably be ok now. If the boy wants to go home it means his father takes good care. If his father wants him home it means he can care for his boy on his own. If authorities want to observe, they can come to his home once a week or something. Petition signed.
Kevin HardernDecember 8, 2010 at 14:36
Let’s remember that
‘THEY know better than you how to run your life than you do’
THEY clearly know what is best for Stephen and his Dad.
THEY say that we should not cut public services as that will impact the needy. Too true in this case, Stephen and his Dad may get their lives back again and we would all save a lot of money
, so they w
InvictaDecember 8, 2010 at 14:31
Signed.

We must never forget that we are to blame for letting this happen. Others may be the perpetrators and individuals may fight for a just cause but unfortunately as a nation, we are guilty of collective apathy. Until the priorites of the majority change from the current selfish path and couch-potato attitude, this sort of disgrace will gather momentun and become the expected and norm. Then and only then and when it is too late will we realise we’ve been well and truely shafted.
The Justice of the PeaceDecember 8, 2010 at 14:31
The Gulag is alive and well and flourishing in England
Hot chocolate mummyDecember 8, 2010 at 14:18
horrified and scared. i hope Mark and Stephen get the proper legal advice and support they need to challenge this ridiculous and heartbreaking situation. hopefully if there is enough of a stink raised about this, the idiotic people who put Stephen in this situation will be held to account. I hope you have a lovely Christmas day together, bless those support workers for giving up their day for you both.
ADecember 8, 2010 at 14:02
I haven’t had time to read all of the comments, but is the National Autistic Society aware of this case? http://www.autism.org.uk/ They are very high profile and incredibly helpful and supportive, and could add to the publicity.

I am the parent of a 6 year old diagnosed with an ASD and this kind of story makes me want to weep.
Shazia ArimDecember 8, 2010 at 13:47
I am absolutely disgusted. (SIGNED)
Lee TheobaldDecember 8, 2010 at 13:45
Another sad example of when a bit of common sense could have saved a person a lot of pain and anguish. If anyone mentions this on Twitter, might I suggest they mention the Twitter account of the LA in question – @Hillingdon
david seagerDecember 8, 2010 at 13:44
*
David JenkinsDecember 8, 2010 at 13:40
depressingly familiar
HermDecember 8, 2010 at 13:40
Hmm, locked up because his behaviour is abormal? Lovely. Signed and tweeted.
Mike MarchantDecember 8, 2010 at 13:36
As a specialist foster carer I deal with behaviour singificantly more challenging than Stephen’s on a daily basis, but I would be incensed if anyone took my young man away from me on this basis.
This kind of legislation, opaque and seemingly unchallengable, is extremely dangerous for us all and we should oppose it wherever we can. The media won’t bother, there’s no profit in that for them.
My every sympathy goes out to both Stephen and Mark and this situation should be resolved swiftly, justly, and with compassion.
Rob JenkinsDecember 8, 2010 at 13:20
Just got the link on twitter. I worked in a brain injury rehabilation centre for five years, and there are a couple of cases that remind me of Stephen’s predicament, although ‘predicament’ is hardly the word: ‘big bastard outrage’ might cover it.
We were dealing with people (or ‘clients’: I always hated that word) who had a prior mental health issue before they acquired their brain injury. Consequently they needed support from staff with cognitive behavioural therapy training and staff with psychiatric training. There was a tawdry game of ‘pass the parcel’ as the various health administrators attempted to justify their decision not to provide adequate care packages so as to keep within their budget. So the conversation would go along the lines of ‘We can’t deal with him: he has mental health issues’….’Well we can’t deal with him: he has a brain injury’ and so on. During this horse trading there would be some poor sod stuck in limbo, unable to move forward with his life, as he didn’t have the package he needed with the right staff properly trained. It felt terrible that nobody would just make a decision and put up the funds. I walked out in the end (for what that’s worth).
There seemed to be a culture of dealing with ‘clients’ as abstract commodities by certain strata of the bloated management structure, but there was a lot of good work done by a lot of hard working people.
Obviously signed the petition and hope this wrong is righted very soon
Cazz O’BrienDecember 8, 2010 at 12:46
Im absolutely disgusted in all of this, and wish Steven all the luck in the world.

For Christ sakes let this poor boy go home to his poor devoted father, of whom I can bet is totally distraught, how bloody dare they do this, for Christ sakes, surely they should be spending their time looking for the real Arseholes in this crazy world.

I will post this to all of my friends & im sure they will post it to theirs.

let’s try and get as much Publicy to help stop shite like this from happening again.
louiseDecember 8, 2010 at 12:24
Signed, tweeted and posted on facebook … I am deeply saddened by this story, I have the honor of working with autistic children (I am a photographer) and I find them inspiring creative and deeply humbling …

Stephen should be at home with his father … I am now emailing a human rights lawer we know and will also have a think – is anyone really co-orditing anything on behalf of Stephen and his father ?
SadButMadLadDecember 8, 2010 at 12:43
Best get in touch with Mark himself. See comments above for facebook page.
Amber TurnerDecember 8, 2010 at 12:19
I’ve got nothing constructive to say about the Government or the NHS.
EnglishAtheistDecember 8, 2010 at 12:18
Blogged.
http://furtherthoughtsfortheday.blogspot.com/2010/12/stephen-neary.html
Tim HillsDecember 8, 2010 at 12:01
Take it the Court of Human Rights this sounds like a clear breach to me.
SamDecember 8, 2010 at 12:00
Signed, and blogged!!
DippersDecember 8, 2010 at 11:57
Lets get Stephen home for Christmas.

Are these nameless bullying bureaucrats that make these decisions not human with families?

I think if they had to grow balls and put their names to these decisions they wouldn’t make them so lightly.

These people seem to either easily lock up people like Stephen, or release dangerous insane animals into our midst. What is wrong with our society?
Lets get Stephen home for Christmas.
tomDecember 8, 2010 at 11:43
Excellent article. Thankyou for bringing this harrowing story to my attention. Petition signed, link shared, mood darkened.
PS. I quite agree with your call to action re contacting presss but the glib dismissal of the most recent wikileaks documents in their entirity as mere tittle-tattle a claim perhaps best left for another entry as it ratehr muddies the water here.
LizDecember 8, 2010 at 11:41
Utterly disgraceful, I hope they get him home soon. Petition signed, Facebooked and Tweeted.
Wendy_McGDecember 8, 2010 at 11:41
@annaraccoon2010 if true appalling. Isn’t anyone helping the father with this?
HCSDecember 8, 2010 at 11:32
You know he can’t go up against the Mental Health Tribunal but he can go to the Tribunals Service (website here: http://www.tribunals.gov.uk/). Good Luck, Stephen and Mark!
Bill GriffithsDecember 8, 2010 at 11:13
I’ll gladly sign, and pray that humanity prevails, that is that love triumphs over fear.
nightlurkerDecember 8, 2010 at 10:33
Signed. It makes you wonder how legislation such as this gets through parliament when no sane person would agree with it. Just proves the point that politicians are no longer safe within government and the only way I can see we can stop laws like this from being passed is to have a referendum on every act proposed by the House of Commons and repeal the Parliament Act to stop statutory legislation being enacted by the current power crazed idiot resident in No 10. Only problem is how would we get people to vote on a referendum when they won’t even vote in a General Election?
Jules HusseyDecember 8, 2010 at 08:47
This is horribly familiar. My adult brother is on the autistic spectrum and in supported living. It’s a constant battle with a system and ‘support’ workers who do not or who are unable to be flexible and use common sense in their approach. The system needs a massive shake up and cases like this are shocking.
Jane YatesDecember 8, 2010 at 08:35
Stephen needs and should have been legally offered a specialist advocate to help him with the complex task of getting his words across, I have worked with people who have autism and “challenging behaviour”. All they ask for is to be heard. What right does someone have to make a snap decision on what they perceive as being his best interests, they obviously have not taken the time to get to know Stephen and to know how he communicates and to understand why he does what he does. Advocacy will enable Stephen and his Father to challenge what is happening. There are specialist advocacy services all over UK, I worked for an excellent one in Wiltshire. Stephen must get a voice and be heard.What happened to his human rights.
LuDecember 8, 2010 at 08:26
I can’t get the petition to work – is it broken? Keen to sign and pass around.
A a friend of someone with both autism and down syndrome I really sympathise. Fingers crossed and please keep up updated.
DominicDecember 8, 2010 at 08:18
I have a 16 year old Autistic son and recognise this sad saga – and my son isn’t even out of school yet.

It fills me with despair and foreboding…

If all else fails, is Judicial Review an option?
Julie EvansDecember 8, 2010 at 07:52
This is disgusting, my grandson has just been diagnosed with Autism, dyslexia and ADHD, I will most certainly be aware of any changes the authorities may try and bring. Signed and I wish Steven and his family all the best.
JaimeDecember 8, 2010 at 03:08
That is just terrible! What kind of system does this to people who are being cared for by loved ones- instead of looking at the children / family members that are being physically & mentally abused everyday! What a disgrace! Petition signed, I hope it works!
Nick HobbsDecember 8, 2010 at 02:38
Signed. Good luck
ftumchDecember 8, 2010 at 02:04
I am a single dad, 12 yo son with aspergers, who is placid and funny… unless you try to take his hat, or invade his personal space… um… and he likes to attract your attention with a prod of his finger.
This story scares the bejaysus out of me. I understand only too well the son’s need to be with the father he knows and trusts, and the father’s own needs to protect his vulnerable son.
There was a comment above (can’t remember which) makes the point of admiring Mr Neary for looking after his son. I can’t understand that… when it’s your own flesh n blood, etc, it doesn’t matter, it is no burden.
Mr Neary, you are not a hero.
You are a Father.
Bless you sir
ftumchDecember 8, 2010 at 01:51
3523
Ron ShoerackDecember 8, 2010 at 01:35
tl;dr
RobDecember 8, 2010 at 02:08
The internet can always provide a twat when needed.
BenSixDecember 8, 2010 at 00:36
Signed.
From the sounds of it they’re depriving this poor guy of love and liberty for the benefit of his, er – mental health. Doesn’t make a lot of sense to me.
PericlesDecember 8, 2010 at 00:21
The nature of the implementation of this legislation, especially as described by Peter Palladas, demonstrates how little faith we can have in these paid M.P.s, whose competence to undertake pre-legislative scrutiny — and dedication to the vital matter of post-legislative scrutiny are at best feeble.
The upper chamber has done somewhat better in this matter, with a short debate in Grand Committee in March this year.  The working of the act was being kept under review ;  whether the change of government has interrupted this I cannot say.
There seem to be several organizations out there that, one might think, would offer Steven the support he needs in his effort to regain control of his life, the most obvious being the Mental Health Alliance and Mencap.  (Lord Rix, much involved in the pre-legislative scrutiny, spoke in the short debate, part of the process of post-legislative scrutiny.)
ΠΞ
Peter PalladasDecember 7, 2010 at 22:14
http://www.communitycare.co.uk/Articles/2005/02/07/48027/The-quotBournewoodquot-Case.htm
…better link, I think.
Peter PalladasDecember 7, 2010 at 22:10
The ‘deprivation of liberty’ guidelines were introduced as an amendment to the Mental Capacity Act 2005, through the Mental Health Act 2007.
They were a response by the then Labour government to the 2005 ECHR ‘Bournewood’ judgement [http://www.communitycare.co.uk/Articles/2005/02/07/48027/The-quotBournewoodquot-Case.htm] concerning another man with autism (and not mentally ill) who had been unlawfully detained in a psychiatric hospital.
The ECHR reviewed the circumstances of what had been effective total control of this man’s life against his will – and the will of those who knew and loved him – and concluded that what, in essence, was missing was a proper legal authority in British law for his detention.
What the Government and the Dept of Health could/should have done is say: “How can we now find ways of best meeting the needs of such people, which do not require such harsh, damaging and unlawful treatment?”
What instead they did was say: “How can we frame a new law that covers our backs and arses, so that we can continue to exercise unreasonable power over the lives of vulnerable people without falling foul of Human Rights legislation and Courts?”
I was doing training on the original MCA between 2004 and 2006. When the DoL guidelines were first published for consultation during this time, I really thought someone was having a laugh. These were seriously twisted proposals from some Whitehall policy gonk, doomed to be shot down in flames. Sadly, how wrong I was.
The essence of the process is this: a Council commissions an organisation to provide a service to a person in need. (The Council cannot commission a deprivation of liberty as such.) But then the provider comes back to the Council as commissioner and says: “We can’t do this job without locking this person up – depriving them of their liberty.”
What, of course, the Council should then be saying is: “OK, if you can’t do the job, we’ll find and commission someone who can.” Instead now, they simply authorise the deprivation of liberty based on their failure to commission the right service.
DoL is a purely circular adminstrative process between commissioner and provider. It flouts so many basic principles of English law – fair treatment not the least of them – it hands more power to the powerful (always risky) and takes power away from the already powerless.
Any notion that DoL is a means for protecting the vulnerable is a farce. The savage irony is that it is only the ‘good’ care providers who will ask for a DoL because they are worried that they are having to deprive someone of their of liberty. The ‘bad’ providers who are quite happy to lock doors, use mis-medication, or whatever it takes to control people won’t even bother to apply for a DoL.
There should have been an outcry at the time DoL was mooted. There wasn’t, in part perhaps because not enough people realised their authoritarian nature and – crucially – how they would be used in practice.
One can only hope that the Court of Protection wakes up to the reality of the abuse that has occurred, Stephen is re-united with his father, that appropriate supports for both of them are made available so that home life can resume and thrive, and that the damage that clearly has been done to the emotional well-being of each can be healed.
And the repeal of DoL. That would be a good outcome, if too high a price for one family to have had to pay on our behalf.
Richard TaylorDecember 9, 2010 at 06:31
You sound like you’re in the know on this matter. Any connections to a lawyer who might take this on pro-bono?
Peter PalladasDecember 9, 2010 at 11:48
Richard, my background is social care rather than the law but there is a very good person who can ably explain how the law works: Belinda Schwehr [ http://www.careandhealthlaw.com/Public/Index.aspx?ContentID=16 ].
Yvonne Hossack [ http://www.hossackssolicitors.com/ ] is the great thorn in the side of Councils who seek to close residential homes, though not sure if MCA / DoLs is her thing.
Stephen’s father no doubt has his legal team assembled, so one can only wish them the best of good fortune at the Court of Protection.
David AbramovitzDecember 7, 2010 at 22:02
This is totally outrageous. Is there no compassion left in Britain? Are we back in Thatcher days?
JuliaMDecember 8, 2010 at 05:56
It was in the ‘Thatcher Days’ that ‘care in the community’ became such a popular fad. But you’ll probably say that was all done to cut costs, won’t you?
You’ll be right, but still…
AnneDecember 7, 2010 at 21:48
I am in complete disbelief that this is happening in the 21st century and the authorities get away with it! It is a shambles and surely they must be someone out there who can make this public and give assistance to Steven’s fathers to get him back. I pray for Steven to get back to his dad as soon as possible!

Petition signed.
MargreetDecember 7, 2010 at 21:01
Signed crying (3301)
Concerned NetizenDecember 7, 2010 at 17:14
I setup a facebook page this morning for this as I was so appalled and horrified that this can happen in our country.
I did a search on facebook but the group doesn’t show up unfortunately.
You can find the page here http://www.facebook.com/pages/Campaign-to-return-Stephen-Neary-home/116518258414284 – the benefit of a page is that people can see it without being logged into facebook and can “like” the page to help promote awareness.
SadButMadLadDecember 7, 2010 at 18:26
Stephen’s dad has set up this FB page – http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=134345726596848
Bryson BoyleDecember 7, 2010 at 16:55
This is a good piece of journalism Anna. I suspect that it is what blogging is all about. It is a shocking indictment on the incompetence of so many of our public authorities. They love wielding power but refuse to accept the responsibility that accompanies that power and there is far too much of it going on today.
George SpellerDecember 7, 2010 at 16:54
Does Chris booker of the Telegraph know about this?
Michael FowkeDecember 7, 2010 at 15:11
The people doing this to him should be the ones fucking locked up!
kathleen whitmoreDecember 7, 2010 at 15:06
My son has learning difficulties. I fear for his future when we are not here to support him. How can this happen to Steven in 2010? They never seem to get it right in this country.
Elinor Perry-SmithDecember 7, 2010 at 14:58
This is like something out of the dark ages!
For shame.
Mel DonohoeDecember 7, 2010 at 14:33
This made me weep. I feel physically sick at the prospect of what Steven and his father have gone through. Signed 3144. And FB’d
alastair harrisDecember 7, 2010 at 13:07
this mental capacity act sounds like an act that should be immediately repealed. This story demonstrates why. One fo rNick Clegg to ponder?
Nic MarshDecember 7, 2010 at 12:20
Stephen’s dad should get in touch with an independent advocacy organisation. They exist to help in cases like this. Try here:http://www.actionforadvocacy.org.uk/
Ashley PDecember 7, 2010 at 12:19
I myself have Aspergers Syndrome, and have two Autistic siblings, and after reading this I’m disgusted. How these people can’t see what poor Stephen is getting so anxious about is frankly ridiculous. It looks like lack of empathy isn’t restricted to Autistic people ¬_¬
Caedmon’s CatDecember 7, 2010 at 11:34
Signed. With feeling.
FACT UKDecember 7, 2010 at 11:09
This is awful, more Court of Protection nuisance.
berenikeDecember 7, 2010 at 09:45
Hillingdon Borough Council fax 01895-273636
Leader of the Council, Councillor Raymond Puddifoot
If anyone can find a fax number for the social work people, that would be even better, but I couldn’t.
berenikeDecember 7, 2010 at 09:18
Online petitions are very well (I have signed).
Why not fax the council? Pick a couple of fax numbers in the social work department, and send the same letter to each. If a couple of thousand faxes on the subject arrive, it’ll have more of an effect on those immediately involved (and from making cups of tea and comforting noises to a freind in a nightmare child custody case, the law may even be on your side, but one low-ranking git is enough to mess everything up).
R MorrisDecember 7, 2010 at 09:04
SIGNED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
MarkDecember 7, 2010 at 08:38
Apologies. That link should be:
http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=134345726596848
SBML: Link fixed
Woman on a RaftDecember 7, 2010 at 10:18
I just wanted to say that I take my hat off to you.
Looking after an autistic person with significant dependency is not something I’d be able to do. I’d be clamouring for the child to have a place in a residential unit and the local authority would be telling me I couldn’t have it.
This is madness; due to the (now acknowledged) rise in autism, there are many families who need that residential place in Wales. If Stephen can be cared for at home, and you are willing and able to do it, then that’s the best use of resources.
“Trinity Noir invoices weekly to Social Services”

Presumably what we’ve got here is a straight political fight where the local authority does not wish to pay the service provider, Trinity Noir, because it is an independent provider. Are Hillingdon saying they can get someone to do the job for less money? Unlikely, as the cost of any residential care is far higher than sending in homecare.
Experience prompts me to ask “What is the financial and personal connection between the local authority and the service provider they want Stephen to use?” Specifically, who are the directors of the Welsh facility and how exactly are they connected to the social services officials, because that is usually where the professional and personal connections lie. (Marriage, live-in partners, business partners, reciprocal consultancy and assessment, trained together….)
robbietheredDecember 7, 2010 at 13:36
Yes, I agree it would be very interesting to know.
I think you might be on to something, who knows.
MarkDecember 7, 2010 at 08:36
Hi. I am Steven’s father. I just wanted to say a very big thank you to Anna for writing this piece and to all the people who have posted messages of support here. It has been an horrendous year. I am so proud of Steven for the stoicism he has shown in the most appalling circumstances. Fortunately he is surrounded by his family, his support workers and his friends at the different places he goes to, who show him love and empathy, which counter balances the treatment he has received from most of the professionals. Unfortunately, if the Authority wins the case and moves Steven to Wales, he will lose all that support. As Anna pointed out, that decision is now in the hands of the court which hopefully will sit within the next week. Some good news – the Authority said that Steven wouldn’t be allowed home for Christmas (because of “the risk”) but two of his support workers have given up their Christmas day to accompany Steven home for the day.

If you want to read more about our case and see the links to the various television, radio and press interviews I have given, please check out: http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?ref=profile&id=705882273#!/group.php?gid=134345726596848
Once again, thanks for your support. Mark
BernieDecember 7, 2010 at 07:47
Hi,This is a very sad situation, I am not an expert but do work in mental health, qualified counsellor, I trained for five years, Every now & again I meet someone like stephen, I what i sence is that in all cases, They need to be around someone they can trust & then they will follow a set of simple rules, Someone like his dad, who has been there all his life,he could handle him better than anybody, Its not rocket science its common sence, But these days some jobsworths are mentally challenged by it.
CascadianDecember 7, 2010 at 07:35
I hope this might help in some small way, writing to the MSM is a waste of my time and theirs. So I sent this to my MP.
Dear Eric Pickles,
As a man of good sense and fair play, I am forwarding some information that displays neither quality. It also is imposing extreme hardship on the family concerned and costing the NHS and local services a fortune.
I must be clear, this is NOT happening within your constituency, so I am appealing to you as Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government to stop this madness and it’s associated cost to government.
The case involves a young man with autism and the Byzantine rules that are being imposed to keep him from a loving and capable father. It is best described here:
http://www.annaraccoon.co.uk/politics/the-orwellian-present-%E2%80%93-never-mind-the-future/
I recognise you are a very busy man and may wish to delegate the case to a more suitable person, I leave that in your capable hands I just ask that the case is not ignored.
Thank you and I wish you, your staff and family the compliments of the season.
Should you wish to contact me the email address is most convenient.
Yours sincerely,
Pickles is the right kind of guy to cut through this BS.
GracieDecember 7, 2010 at 00:01
Signed
PericlesDecember 6, 2010 at 23:59
Section 61 of the Mental Capacity Act, 2005 provides for the appointment of ‘Court of Protection Visitors’ ;  there are two categories, defined by sub-section (1) :  special and general visitors.
A special visitor must be a medical practitioner or appear to the Lord Chancellor to have other pertinent qualifications and have knowledge of and experience in mental disturbance ;  a general visitor need not be so qualified.
A visitor carrying out his functions in relation to a person found under the act to lack capacity has considerable powers, particularly in relation to examination of the medical &c. records relating to him.
Has such a visitor been appointed in relation to Stephen Neary ?
~ · ~
I was puzzled by the nature of the petition.  It is addressed to the London Borough of Hillingdon and demands (sic) that that borough take certain actions including an investigation of its own actions.
Ought it not to be addressed to, e.g., the L.C. and to request that an independent investigation be carried out ?
ΠΞ

CharlieDecember 6, 2010 at 23:19
The Mental Capacity Act is there for a reason. Clearly his father is unable to care for hi properly.

Medical professionals can assess the situation impartially and will always act in the best interests of the individual. Although he may be a lovely person, Stephen is clearly a danger it himself and it is the duty of the state to take appropriate measures.

I would also question the “tapping”- the workers at the positive behaviour units are extremely tolerant with what they have to deal with, are very hard working and compassionate and it seems unfair that people are re blogging their apparent ineptitude on limited information.
JuliaMDecember 7, 2010 at 05:40
“…and it seems unfair that people are re blogging their apparent ineptitude on limited information.”
Good to see someone focus with laser precision on the true ‘unfairness’ in this story…
/sarc
CascadianDecember 7, 2010 at 08:11
Charlie, clearly you need some comprehension skills.
The father is quite capable of determining what is best for his son and what care is required, one look at the photograph tells any sentient being that Stephen is in robust health and happy (when not in the custody of jobsworths and imbeciles).
Medical “professionals” do not always act in the best interest of the patient especially when the local authority requesting Welfare Deputyship probably pay the wages of the medical professional.
I suspect the people in the positive behaviours unit may have the qualities you ascribe to them, but they are probably brainwashed by the elf n safety culture and I’m guessing risk-averse managers to make a mountain out of a molehill.
Treat Ya Like A CharlieDecember 7, 2010 at 13:20
Okay, Mr Charlie
Tell us all, in your infinite and superior wisdom, WHY you and the State you support in your comment, necessarily know better and know what is “in his best interests” than Stephen’s loved ones and , shock horror, maybe even Stephen himself?

If he’s committed no crime, and millions of street thugs out there have and are much more of a “danger to themselves and others”, WHY is he locked up and they are running free, most without even tags on, after very harmfully assaulting people, intimidating people, stealing, some even murdering and laughing about it, and generally wrecking society for decent citizens?

You appear to approach the whole issue from fundamentally different values and a pholosophy alien to the compassionate and family nature of the human race, – i.e. that which separates us from and raises us above the animal kingdom, even if your ideas do support the current behavior of the oppressive state.

Dare I say, the position you take will not find many supporters here.
Wombling FreeDecember 8, 2010 at 15:33
My sympathy is with Stephen and his father. This article, though, is very one-sided. It clearly doesn’t tell the whole story.
I hope the publicity generated will cause a more detailed, balanced story to emerge so that Stephen gets the best outcome for him.
IanDecember 6, 2010 at 23:17
Very good post – too bad you ruined it with that unnecessary last paragraph
JuliaMDecember 7, 2010 at 05:38
What’s so unnecessary about the last paragraph?
liveotherwiseDecember 6, 2010 at 23:16
I’ve tweeted this, signed the petition, shared it on fb and pestered my mp and libdem ppc and Graham Stuart MP – he’s been very helpful in the past with home educators. It seems to me that it isn’t enough to tweet this aimlessly around – we need to get someone involved who can actually do something, and much as I hate the heirarchy, when short of time, it’s the heirarchy that counts.
ruth parkerDecember 6, 2010 at 22:40
I thought this was the kind of thing you read about in books set in the past not in the present.
Derek WrightDecember 6, 2010 at 22:23
Disgusting, horrific & cruel.
What a disgrace.
richard jonesDecember 6, 2010 at 22:01
Signed
GailDecember 6, 2010 at 21:52
Signed, passed on and will continue to follow the story and hope that someone sees sense and let Stephen go home. Noticed a few mentions on twitter and hopefully with the millions of people on there we can all try and raise awareness of this terrible situation.
Paul MartinDecember 6, 2010 at 21:48
Signed and passed on to every media contact I have. My Son has learning difficulties, and I despair at the treatment of this family. This could happen to any one of us who are carers.
DelphiusDecember 6, 2010 at 21:08
My son is autistic. A higher functioning autistic, much like Stephen. His disability in some ways much more challenging than a more obvious one. Some parts of his psychological development are fine for his age, some he left behind in an age of single digits. He can very easily be misunderstood by other adults who expect him to behave in a nuanced, adult manner.

Stephen’s case doesn’t suprise me as I’m all too aware of the “not-a-mental-illness nor a learning disability” unfunded and misunderstood grey area that higher functioning autistics are pushed into.

In our case, local authorities have consistently refused to provide any form of support to him, despite him being at risk if left alone long-term. Even though he’s now attempting to live independantly as a lodger, I’m his sole means of support and if I pass away, his future is uncertain. He gets DLA and ESA although at any time these could be cut if he gets interviewed by a sceptical, uncaring or untrained interviewer.

Stephen’s case scares me witless as a possible future for my son. Either that or homeless, or in prison, where a lot of higher functioning autistics end up.

I’ve obviously signed the petition.
nDecember 6, 2010 at 20:24
Chilling.
Signed.
Ancient and Tattered AirmanDecember 6, 2010 at 20:21
Also signed and passed on.
ClaireDecember 6, 2010 at 20:06
Signed and passed on
Iain ChambersDecember 6, 2010 at 20:00
This is an utter disgrace. Signed

(BTW bit odd being compelled to make a comment. Suspect this might lose signatories who may click away thinking ‘job done’. Should at least be an asterisk indicating ‘comment required’).
RoxyDecember 6, 2010 at 19:50
This is not about protecting Stephen. This is about covering the arses of those scared of being found accountable if Stephen ‘does something’. It is about protecting management.
And this is NOT what the MCA and DoLS are for. They were designed to protect people that lack the capacity to make decisions for themselves.
Scott GouldDecember 6, 2010 at 19:35
What a hideous situation from a hideous system that tries to prescribe away everything.
Signing the petition now.
electro-kevinDecember 6, 2010 at 18:40
2552
tinksDecember 6, 2010 at 18:39
An absolutely shocking story.
The worrying thing is at some point we could all exhibit the wrong ‘sign’ in the wrong company; the result of some trauma, turmoil or frustration, and hey presto there is a badly written law ready to be used as a catch-all, because some self-righteous gimp has the power – and is going to use it in some self-justifying gesture.
These people destroy lives.
The world gets scarier every day.
robbietheredDecember 6, 2010 at 18:38
Signed.
What an utter prong of a state we’re being fucked around by.

These Johnny – Wobblers of control freaks, I don’t know.
Hoots Mon, there’s Abuse – Loose – Aboot This Hoose!
dakDecember 6, 2010 at 18:27
I’ve been coming here for a while but have never commented before.
Petition signed, story blogged.
Thanks for coming back and carrying on, Anna.
MikeDecember 6, 2010 at 17:55
I don’t sign petitions or reply to blogs, but I have now
JiksDecember 6, 2010 at 17:49
Signed.
God knows what this country has come to when this sort of thing can happen. Every time I think the absolute nadir has been reached I am proved wrong.
Ingrid NilssonDecember 6, 2010 at 17:49
Hope this action will help Steven to come home to his father.
Joe PublicDecember 6, 2010 at 17:44
So Catch-22.
He wants to go home. He ‘escapes’ from oxymoronically-named “Positive Behaviour Unit”. Is returned to captivity & assessed as unsuitable for ‘release’ because…………….he wants to go home.
Gordon KennedyDecember 6, 2010 at 17:35
petition signed
Hope he will be back and remain with his family
MartinDecember 6, 2010 at 16:46
What utter B*******.
I wish I could descibe how angry I am at this, then again maybe it’s a good thing I can’t.
I hope Steven’s father get’s him back very soon.
Petition has been signed.
ChalcedonDecember 6, 2010 at 16:34
This is what happens when compassion is taken out of any process of dealing with human beings and replaced by a mechanistic tick box process devoid of humanity. This is all too common amongst social services. I would expect his assessment would take as long as it took to read his medical history from his GP surgery and any assessments in secondary care. Say half an hour. Unfortunately those with autism, especially asperger’s syndrome and very literal minded and often overtly aggressive too. Especially when literally taken out of their comfort zone. This is a pretty sad story but unfortunately all too true when compassion doesn’t feature.
KevinDecember 6, 2010 at 16:32
Nice one Anna. I moved my Autistic son out of the UK for this very reason.
Kirsten EasdaleDecember 6, 2010 at 16:26
As the mother of a 25 year old autistic man, I found it necessary to obtain lagal guardianship of my own son, to prevent innappropriate services being given to him. I am outraged that this is happening to Steven. Is there no common sense or compassion left in this country of over zealous abusers of political correctness and health and safety issues? Why is Steven’s story not on the front page of our major newspapers or on our national television news channels? I feel powerless to help, but surely there is someone out there who can bring this to the attention of the right people!
DemetriusDecember 6, 2010 at 15:43
It sends a shiver through the mind. I recall in the 1970′s having bitter arguments with high government officials and others over their ideas about autism. They fitted neither the facts nor any other evidence. So thirty or more years on and it is little better.
SresDecember 6, 2010 at 15:28
Signed, hope this gets sorted.
GiollaDecember 6, 2010 at 15:28
Signed and spreading the word.
As someone working in IT and knowing a lot of geeks, it’s only s tiny stretch from someone like Stephen being treated like this to any trouble making geek (we are after all, all on the spectrum somewhere).
Christine HockettDecember 6, 2010 at 14:35
Signed
lolaDecember 6, 2010 at 14:34
The irony is that you could describe the dysfunctional bureaucracy collectively ‘autistic’. Putting a turkey on your head seems positively sensible, and it’s certainly funny, compared the Kafkaesque and entirely humourless behaviour of the bureaucrats.
God help us all.
Jeff WoodDecember 6, 2010 at 14:34
I think I mean “distinguishable”. Blame it on anger.
Jeff WoodDecember 6, 2010 at 14:33
Signed. No 2,435.
How, precisely, is this indistinguishable from kidnap? It is like one of those forced adoptions which Booker is complaining about.
6079SmithWDecember 6, 2010 at 13:58
Dear Ms Raccoon
Too many people with not enough to do.
Too many targets to fill, budgets to spend, boxes to tick.
Don’t suppose any of the loggers think that treating a tap on the shoulder as ‘assault’ might indicate that they are suffering from some mental incapacity, oh no. Plainly these people had a shortfall in one of their buckets and Stephen could be fitted to the bill nicely. Bonuses all round, and for the foreseeable future too. Doubleplus good.
Bigger state, more buckets: soon there will be one for you.
Remind me: why do we pay taxes?
Winston
Chris WaddellDecember 8, 2010 at 05:23
Signed, shared on facebook and twitter in support of this man and his father’s rights.
RobTDecember 6, 2010 at 13:51
Signed – This makes me so angry and so sad. As said in the comment before, this truly is beyond disgrace.
KillemallletgodsortemoutDecember 6, 2010 at 13:49
Signing.
Facebook it.
Who’s their MP? Send a copy of this post to whomsoever it is.
I thought Call Me Dave was going to put a stop to this bloody socialist control-freakery.
Bastards, all.
overthehillandfarawayDecember 6, 2010 at 13:45
Signed and sickened.
Smoking HotDecember 6, 2010 at 13:41
My great uncle had autism but had a full life because he was cared for by the family and community. He was indeed part of the community. He would go for walks that lasted about an hour most days in the area and especially liked the park and feeding the ducks. Everyone knew that he had to be back at the pub (my grandmothers) for closing time which was 3pm. Many a time he was brought back home by members of the community (including children … aghast! horror!) when he pushed or forgot the 3pm deadline. He also like going to the local shops. l can still picture him with a shopping bag in one hand and his little purse in the other containing money and the shopping list.
Simon MulhollandDecember 6, 2010 at 13:20
Totally sick, signing the petition and posting on Facebook.

Simon Mulholland
EarthtracerDecember 6, 2010 at 12:45
Signed – with shaking hand and the air blue with impolite words for those ghastly sub-humans who have perpetrated this evil.
Disenfranchised of BuckinghamDecember 6, 2010 at 12:18
signed, emailed, blogged.
Stuff the State.

Dominic AllkinsDecember 6, 2010 at 11:43
Signed and I’ll be posting it on my Facebook page.
What on earth is this country coming to??
Sir OllyDecember 6, 2010 at 11:40
Signed. Bunch of bastards!
PaulDecember 6, 2010 at 11:37
Being a human being and a professional is not difficult ; I worked with autistic children (mostly) for many years.
Oddly, I never found an issue with the difference between a child tapping me to get my attention, because they wanted something, and being assaulted (which happened extremely infrequently).
Autism is partially a communications disorder and partly a social comprehension disorder (amongst other things !).
More or less by definition, their methods of communication are inappropriate.
KevinSDecember 6, 2010 at 11:30
Signed. The lunatics have definitely taken over the asylum, and this is more evidence of it.
Beware of Geeks Bearing GIFsDecember 6, 2010 at 11:20
FFS.
Signed.
Woman on a RaftDecember 6, 2010 at 11:07
So, instead of caring for this man effectively at at a reasonable cost to the public purse – because luckily his father was prepared to do the hard work – we now have fantastic numbers of people sticking in claim forms for making things worse.
Even if one did not give a fig for things such as the welfare of Stephen or decency, the sheer waste of money should tell us that this must not be allowed.
Elaine KirkDecember 6, 2010 at 10:17
I am gobsmacked and haven’t got my thoughts together but need to ask, is there any possibility that the public could pay for an independent assessment?
HolisticHumanistDecember 6, 2010 at 17:04
I’d donate to that!
MoragDecember 8, 2010 at 12:35
So would I! This is an outrageous case.
Ray P HewittDecember 6, 2010 at 10:17
Few things in life make me seethe with anger… This report just achieved that. Beyond a disgrace, truly the lunatics are running the asylum.
Captain RantyDecember 6, 2010 at 10:02
What is wrong with these sicko’s?
Petition signed.
CR.
lenkoDecember 6, 2010 at 10:57
They suffer from a world-wide mental sickness which convinces them that they know best. Like many delusions, there is no known cure. Sadly, the very nature of the illness forces sufferers into positions of authority, where they can exercise their superior knowledge.
2MacDecember 6, 2010 at 10:02
Signed. I heard this story on Radio 5 a couple of weeks ago. The poor father was devastated.
At times I wonder hat the world is coming too when parents are being kept from their own children for their own saftey.
I have a daughter and I cannot even process the thought of someone taking her without getting angry.
TimdogDecember 6, 2010 at 09:16
So depressed now. Petition signed. Bloody hell.
JuliaMDecember 6, 2010 at 08:11
“…I would think most of my readers will have figured out for themselves by now the reasons for his behaviour.”
Well, that’s because we’re human beings, not ‘professionals’.
RyanDecember 8, 2010 at 15:00
I’m a professional – but this article struck a profound sense of frustration and sadness in me. Sweeping generalisations are counterproductive…
Tony OsgoodDecember 8, 2010 at 20:12
I’m a professional too (or was) and concur with Ryan’s views. Blaming one group for failings in a system seem unhelpful and potentially unproductive… Having said that, if there are problems within a system, it is invariable a failure of management: “Those who don’t know how to manage are managing those who don’t know what to do” (Gary LaVigna).
One issue is that much professional training focuses on diagnoses, disorders, reductionist interventions, and not on the person, their sense of self and their contexts. Given the common experiences of many individuals with autism spectrum conditions, in that predictable routines are helpful, that verbal-communication can easily go awry, that perceiving sense through the sensory maelstrom is sometimes difficult, then ‘meltdowns’ in autism-unhelpful situations is inevitable.
What this story- as presented, without insight into the details- what this shows is not best interests, it does not reflect professionalism, and certainly not positive behaviour support. It debases all these constructs. It suggests that when push comes to shove, the shove wins, and in many such situations, it is clearly not the individual who holds the power to shove.
If people’s needs are not met, we often see ‘challenging behaviour’ or as Geraint Ephraim named it, “exotic communication.” People (including professionals, medics, staff and all of us) often fall into the trap of processing people, and we don’t listen too much to ‘please’ or ‘stop’ but do listen (and respond) to perceived threats to authority and certainly to a kick in the teeth or a slap. “A punch in the face is an act of communication that is difficult not to hear.”
How about viewing this not as problem behaviour but as self-determination, as saying loud and clear ‘you are not meeting my very human needs?’
What people need is mindfulness, rapport, person-focused support, not being blamed for reacting to inadequate situations. Herb Lovett said it eloquently in ‘Learning to Listen’ except not many listened to Herb, RIP.
RogDecember 6, 2010 at 08:03
Signed, and now very depressed again. What a shit Country.
PaulineDecember 8, 2010 at 14:50
Agree 100%
Ed PDecember 6, 2010 at 07:25
National Socialism never really went away, did it? The weaker members of society are to be “solved” first. We’re all next. Faceless state jobsworths, ruining lives with unrestrained powers – ugh.

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