September 1 2014 Latest news:

Local Weather

Partly Cloudy

Partly Cloudy

max temp: 22°C

min temp: 16°C

Five-day forecast

The mother of a severely autistic teenager says her son has experienced “vile abuse” and prejudice.

To send a link to this page to a friend, you must be logged in.

Leo Andrade and son Stephen, 19, have been thrown off buses and out of supermarkets in Archway and Holloway due to ignorance of his disability, she says.

They have joined a campaign started by autistic author Kevin Healey, who is aiming to change the law surrounding cyber bullying, making it a hate crime.


The campaign has attracted support from the likes of comedian Ricky Gervais as well as celebrities Melanie Sykes and Katie Price, whose children have autism.

More than 100 MPs have also pledged their support and a draft bill is set to be read in the House of Commons.

Mrs Andrade, 49, who lives with her three children and husband Manuel in Rickson Street, Holloway, said that since her son was a toddler, they had encountered abuse.

“It would happen at least three times a week. We would get on a bus and, because of sensory issues, if the bus was empty, he would sit and smile. But if it was full and there was nowhere to sit and there were people passing and touching him, he would get upset or anxious.

“He would scream and start smacking his ears and clapping his hands.

“People would get upset and start shouting ‘crazy kid, get him off the bus’ and ‘you can’t control him, you’re a bad mother’. The driver would stop the bus and throw us off.

“Sometimes I felt like I would have to put a sign on his back saying ‘I’m autistic’.”

Despite being 19, his mother says Stephen has a mental age of seven. She said they have also suffered abuse in supermarkets and Mrs Andrade said they were once banned by security at a store in Archway.

Kevin Healey, whose twin brother is severely autistic and who was himself diagnosed 13 years ago, has experienced cyber bullying and death threats. He says many people don’t understand what autism is.

Said Mr Healey: “There needs to be a programme at school from the age of five to educate kids about autism and other forms of mental illness.”

n To find out more about the campaign go to

Share this article


   Local advertisers

More health

Click here to read the Digital Edition of the Islington Gazette on screen
Use our Wedding site to help you plan your big day!
At WeddingSite we know how much you have to organise for your wedding day, that's why we have designed a set of FREE, simple-to-use tools to make the planning process easy & hassle-free. FIND OUT MORE
Find a date using our online dating and friend finder
You can meet new friends, find romance or simply meet up online with people sharing similar interests and hobbies. FIND OUT MORE
Find a local business using our online directory search
Need a plumber? Or a florist? Or anything else? Search our business directory to find Islington businesses in just a few seconds. FIND OUT MORE
Family notices from the Islington Gazette, with readers' tributes
In memoriam, birthdays, weddings, anniversaries, best wishes & special days. FIND OUT MORE

Celebrity / Showbiz See all

Drake has cancelled his Wireless London performance (Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images for ESPN)

Fans devastated after Drake cancels Wireless London festival

Rapper Drake has pulled out of his headline appearances at this weekend’s Wireless Festival in London, leaving fans devastated.

Read full story »