Sunday, 20 Sep 2020

Coronavirus: Children with autism ‘stopped from seeing parents’ during lockdown

Young people with autism and learning disabilities are suffering human rights abuses due to the impact of the coronavirus lockdown, an investigation has found.

A cross-party committee of MPs and lords listened to evidence from the mothers of two young people detained in institutions whose mental health spiralled downhill when the pandemic meant they were unable to see their parents.

Now the Joint Committee on Human Rights has made a number of recommendations to protect those who are most vulnerable.

Andrea Attree told the hearing: “Dannielle suffers with paranoia so she thinks sometimes that I don’t want to come or I don’t like her.

“It just heightens all those anxieties and then obviously the more anxious she becomes, the more she self-harms and it’s just a vicious circle.”

Before lockdown, Andrea would visit twice a week on set days but for seven weeks she wasn’t allowed to see her daughter, who is 23, even once.

“It’s incredibly hard to see your daughter destroying herself,” she said.

“She feels she has got nothing to live for, therefore at any given opportunity she will take that opportunity to try and end her life.”

Chairwoman of the committee Harriet Harman MP said making sure parents are allowed to visit is vital.

“The system shouldn’t just treat them like a nuisance, because without parental visits often the young person gets worse and then is more subjected to forcible constraint and solitary confinement and then deteriorates again,” she said.

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