One weekend in April 2018 my autistic son aged 17 was outside on our front garden minding his own business when he became the victim of an unprovoked attack on him resulting in physical and mental injuries.
Harry was minding his own business watching his autistic sister and other sister play outside. Within minutes youths descended upon him and immediately started mocking and taunting him. They asked why he had no friends and a shouted: ‘because you’re autistic’.
They mocked his hair and the way he dressed. They kicked footballs at his head and punched and kicked him and pulled at his clothes and then threatened to damage his belongings. They also made threats of violence and stated the whole street wanted us out of our home because we were freaks and didn’t belong there.
I called the police. Harry was extremely overloaded with frustration and anxiety as this had been a part of his life for the past two years but no one cared.
Police arrived and despite expressing our concerns of our safety they dismissed it and drove away. Then 45 minutes later Harry was surrounded by a large number of residents both youths and adults and he was violently attacked by a male in their 20s. There was also a boxer who had made several threats, but this time followed it through.
Harry was diagnosed with autism and sensory processing disorder when he was 13 just before his father’s diagnosis of the same and his 10 year old sister’s diagnosis of selective mutism and autism.
Harry has always found social situations extremely challenging and although he tried mainstream school he found it too difficult and was home schooled alongside his younger siblings.
We moved into social housing in Somerset in January 2016 because of my physical disabilities. Despite Harry’s difficulties with social communication and emotions, he became very good at football. He played a solitary position of goal keeper and played for Yeovil town, Bristol City and Arsenal before he was attacked.
Start of discrimination
Not long after moving into our new home it became apparent that the rest of the estate did not accept ‘different people’ in their community. The autistic members of my family were continuous targets of abuse. They were subjected to
- Being mocked and mimicked ( hand flapping and the use of ear defenders)
- Name calling such as spastic, retard, autistic freak, weirdo, mong, and Billy no mates
- Constant verbal abuse, threats of violence, harassment, antisocial behaviour (ASB), and criminal damage to vehicles that belonged to them
- Driven at and hit by vehicles
- Caused alarm and distress
We moved to Taunton into social housing for security. Our immediate next door neighbours were also social housing tenants (a school teaching assistant and town chaplin) orchestrated all the hate within the street which was aimed at the members of my family with autism. More and more residents became involved in their malicious campaign to bully us out of our home.
Although the social landlords states they had zero tolerance policy against ASB and hate, they offered no help or support and took no action against the perpetrators. They even leaked all our personal and sensitive data to the perpetrators. They classed it as low-level neighbourhood disputes even though no complaints had been made against my family.
Over two years we had well over 100 police logs of hate-related incidents and crime. None of which were followed up with any type of action. Police would not accept it was disability hate crime despite plenty of evidence. Instead they ignored it and neglected us allowing incidents to escalate and become more frequent.
There was a huge barrier between ourselves and the police. The police had no compassion or understanding of autism. The police accused my autistic husband and son of being:
- Unable to have a ‘proper’ conversation
And could not understand why communication cards were a way of them to communicate
My husband’s social worker and autism specialist for Somerset offered the police and housing specialist training to enable them to communicate better and understand. This was declined.
Impact on the whole family
The constant neglect of the police had a huge impact on the whole family especially the autistic members of my family. It affected their mental well-being and triggered and exacerbated other conditions.
Harry has been particularly affected. He gave up his football career, was unable to sit his exams and suffers now from PTSD and severe anxiety and depression. He feels the police have failed us. He has had suicidal thoughts and practically wrote his car off due to have the feeling of no self worth and there being no justice in the world. Harry felt extremely let down and had no respect for the police.
Present and future situation
Since the attack the whole family felt so unsafe that we relocated to another county. This has been a huge challenge living in unfamiliar territory and routines broken and changed.
In October 2018 Avon and Somerset police wrote to us and stated that they would be filing the report on the assault and taking no further action. This was a huge shock as there was CCTV evidence and the male admitted his crime. He even bragged about it on social media and stated he couldn’t wait to finish him off.
We have made numerous complaints to IPCC but none were upheld even with evidence of police discrimination, lies and fabrication. Instead, the police accused us of fabricating incidents, staging incidents and not engaging with the police.
Police wrote back to us admitting inconsistencies within dealing with our incidents and despite promises of putting a plan in place to protect us by the chief inspector, none of it was followed though.
We are of the opinion the police covered up for each other and are doing the same now. They accused our autistic son of being the protagonist in the assault and there deserved what he got.
This is not acceptable. Autism is a non-visible disability and those with autism should not be subjected to violence or discrimination from members of the public or professionals.
Please help get our story out there so another family do not suffer what we have. We want justice. A vile bully has got away with his crime. Please help us get the police to reinvestigate this crime and allow our son to continue with his life and restore his faith in society.