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(UK) Daily Mail reveals scandalous care of autistic youth in "assessment/treatment units"

Oct 27, 2018, Daily Mail: Scandal of the autistic youngsters locked in solitary confinement: Hundreds of children are being held in appalling conditions and routinely abused in secluded padded cells https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-6324515/Hundreds-children-held-appalling-conditions-routinely-abused-secluded-cells.html Hundreds of people with autism and learning disabilities are being locked up in appalling conditions, routinely abused and stuffed into tiny, secluded padded cells, a Mail on Sunday investigation has found. Devastated families are having children and young adults taken from them against their wishes and locked away – in one case for an astonishing 18 years. Our shocking investigation found that confused teenagers are being fed through hatches in seclusion, forcibly injected with powerful drug cocktails to sedate them, and violently restrained by up to six adults at a time behind the locked doors of secretive units. The scandal is due to broken political promises by the Government, bickering local officials, woeful care failures and profit-hungry private operators taking over a lucrative National Health Service sector. We can reveal: • Ministers have failed to meet pledges made after the 2011 Winterbourne View care abuse scandal to empty assessment and treatment units (ATUs) of people with learning disabilities by returning them to families and communities; • Latest figures show that 2,375 people with learning disabilities are still stuck in these supposedly short-stay units; • One man has been held an astonishing 18 years. His elderly parents say the experience has been a nightmare and that their son is very depressed, crying when their weekly visits end; • The number of children in ATUs doubled over the past three years – yet powerless parents are routinely gagged by courts and some have been threatened with having homes seized if they speak out; Tony Hickmott is an autistic man whose mother Pam said ‘never harmed anyone in the community’ when living at home in Brighton. He was sent away supposedly for nine months, but has now, shamefully, spent almost 18 years in ATUs. ‘We were happy to care for him but just needed a little respite help,’ said Pam, 74, a retired hospital supervisor. ‘Instead, they took him away.’ She and her husband Roy had to fight in court to remain his legal guardians. They say he has been stuck in lonely seclusion, abused, restrained and had his arm badly broken in three places…. Isabelle Garnett, an autism campaigner whose teenage son suffered terribly when taken into an ATU for almost two years, said people with autism and learning disabilities were placed in mental health hospitals due to lack of appropriate services in local communities. ‘Once they are admitted to hospital, people with autism are set up to fail,’ she said. ‘Being ripped away from all that they know and all who love them causes yet more stress. ‘The inappropriate hospital environment, care and treatment increases anxiety and consequently there is more challenging behaviour. This is the most vicious of circles: the hospital becomes the cause of the child’s continued detention.’ Tory MP Charles Walker, who has campaigned on mental health issues, said: ‘This seems like a system designed to burn through lives and burn through money.’…