Bradley’s Story (reproduced from Teeside Live website, 27 Apr 2018)
23 year old Bradley Grimes had been in the care system since the age of seven. When he left care with no support, aged 17, he became homeless and ended up surviving by begging and sleeping rough. Between that time and the most recent incident, Bradley had been locked up in cells countless times for breaching Anti-social Behaviour Orders (ASBOs), that is, he was banned from bedding down for the night in shop doorways in Middlesborough. “I can’t even sit on a public bench without being locked up. I have to keep moving. … I was in [prison] pretty much all weekend, near enough every weekend.”
As well as being autistic, Bradley also has an inoperable brain tumour “brought on by years of neglect”. He also suffers with epilepsy and a heart murmur. When he appeared in court in October 2017 for breaching a four-month suspended jail sentence, he pleaded with the judge to invoke his sentence and send him to prison so that at least he could be warm and fed on his birthday. Bradley felt that jail was a better option than staying outside and continually being arrested. On the outside, “it’s impossible for me to cope on my own, because I’m bad with things like budget and money.” When the judge commented, “I’m doing everything I can to help you. You’re not doing anything to help me”, Bradley opened his mouth to protest but was told by the judge to “Shut up”.
Bradley was back in Court on 25th April 2018 and sentenced to a year in prison for repeatedly flouting court orders and failing to turn up for hospital appointments to treat his slow-growing brain tumour. The judge commented, “That in my view should be enough for you to receive, hopefully as an outpatient, specialist cancer treatment. And it might help save your life.” What this says about a society that has to lock up vulnerable people in prison to make sure they receive the medical treatment they need, should be alarming.
This research paper published in 2018 provides evidence that as many as 12% of homeless people were identified as austic. See here for a summarised discussion on the research.