This week I reported for Autism Daily Newscast the story of Catherine Dyer who is fighting for her daughter, Claire 20, who has autism and challenging behaviors to return to her home in Swansea. At present she is in a psychiatric hospital in Brighton, that is 230 miles away from their home.
This story touched me completely, as a mother of an autistic child. Why is this allowed to happen? Why are so many of our young people who are on the autistic spectrum placed under the Mental Health Act, sectioned and then put into psychiatric units were the individuals looking after them have very little training with regards to autism? This was highlighted in the case of Leo Martinez, whose son Stephen is also miles away from home in a secure unit.
I do not know what the answer is, but services and attitudes need to change.
Here is the original article that I posted onto Autism Daily Newscast
Catherine Dyer fights for autistic daughter to return to Swansea
Claire Dyer - is 20 years old and has autism and challenging behaviors.Up until August 1, Claire was resident at a unit in Swansea, where she had been since since April 2012. Claire was sectioned In September 2013. Catherine, Claire's mother states in the change.org petition petition
'Unfortunately though, due to severe behaviours in the unit, and her being told last September being told she would have to go to Northampton, things have got progressively worse there. We asked if they would take her off section as she is far better here. NO'
Catherine then further adds;
'Last Monday, 28th July we were told she was going to Brighton on the Wednesday.
Luckily our solicitor managed to get a judicial review. This ended in a court hearing on Friday 1st August, where unfortunately the judge over ruled us, and Claire ended up going to Brighton before any of us had a chance to say goodbye to her. Her sister and brother, and us too, were all heartbroken, and we were NOT allowed to visit her over the weekend.'
The journey to visit Claire is approximately 5 hours one way, and the family are only allowed a 2 hour visit.
'It's absolutely ridiculous, and cruel. What about family life, Claire's rights etc?? This is a girl who has been with us more or less daily, and now she can see us for 2 hours a week.'
On August 1 Claire sadly was moved to a secure unit in Brighton, 230 miles away from her home. The comment made by Catherine in the petition states;
'We are heart broken and devastated, and this will just tear our family apart.'
Catherine also made an extremely poignant and heartfelt comment on the petition website on August 6, commenting that;
'We are just back from our first journey to Brighton to visit Claire. Visiting is supposed to be 2 hours a week - not bad for a 10 hour return journey !!!!! - but they allowed us 2 visits this week. Nicola and Andrew finally had a chance to see her, after she was sent there without any of us having a chance to say goodbye last Friday, but it is so hard sitting in a room for 2 hours, with a nurse there the whole time, plus a social worker yesterday as Andrew is only 15.'
What is especially difficult for Claire, is that she is not allowed her IPad, as this is not the unit's policy. She is also not allowed to venture out of the building as her clinician is on holiday . This is extremely devestating as Catherine states that Claire used to go out every day with her family.
Catherine continues to add:
'The staff seem fine there, but it's not an autism specific hospital, this isn't helping Claire, who just keeps asking when she can come home.'
Catherine set up the petition to be delivered to Paul Roberts the Chief Executive of Abertawe Bro Morgannwg health board. You can visit and sign the petition here
Joining Catherine in her campaign are Kevin Healey,leading autism campaigner, and mother to an autistic son, Leo Martinez, who is experiencing a similar situation with her son Stephen. Both are helping the campaign. We covered Leo's story back in July and can be read here.
As well as setting up a website for Claire, Kevin has set up a Flickr campaign, #saveclairedyer, in which you can add and upload your own selfie photo for Claire adding the hashtags #SaveClaireDyer and #KeepClaireinSwanswa. Alternatively, you can email Kevin at email@example.com or tweet your pic to Kevin on twitter @kevin_healey in order to show your support
Kevin will soon be making a film that will highlight children and adults with autism who have been sent to mental health units. Kevin will be presenting the film, as well as Carol Stott, Polly Tommey and Andrew Dobosz also being involved. At present they are looking for case studies, and anyone who wishes to contribute and share their story is being asked to get in touch with Leo via her Facebook page, or you can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In a recent Facebook post Catherine stated:
'We will keep going....... all for Claire who should not be so far from home and her family. All she wants is what she was promised in February 2012 - A care home not too far away.... xx'
The Save Claire Dyer website can be found here