Autistic Holloway teen moved from mental hospital after mother’s campaign

Leo Andrade with her sons Joshua (left) and Stephen.

Leo Andrade with her sons Joshua (left) and Stephen. - Credit: Archant

An autistic teenager who was locked up inside a mental hospital has finally been moved after a two year campaign by his mother.

Stephen Andrade, 19, from Holloway, was detained 60 miles from home at a self harming ward for 25 to 40-year-olds at St Andrews Hospital in Northampton – where his family were often told they couldn’t see him as they “upset him”.

He has lost the ability to speak and has not been allowed to see his eight-year-old brother Joshua for eight months.

His mother Leo Andrade started a petition which has gathered more than 10,000 signatures and appeared on Channel 4 News in a plea to help bring Stephen home and finally he has been moved to a specialised autism unit in a secure hospital in Colchester.

However, Mrs Andrade says that it could still be a year before she is allowed to bring her son home.

“At St Andrews they had him on six anti-psychotic drugs and two of them are for epileptic people, said Mrs Andrade, who lives with her husband Manuel and her eight-year-old son Joshua in Rixon Street, Holloway.

“One of them was 1,000 milligrams a day.

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“When I saw that I just felt sick, it’s so wrong – how can they do that.

“It’s 22 months to the day that he arrived there that he is moving out – he never left the site, he hasn’t been out in all that time.

“It’s going to be very hard for him to adapt of every day life socially. He isn’t verbal anymore as he’s been sedated for all this time.

“Before he went there he could communicate but now he can’t, we used to look after him the two of us and he was fine but there, with professionals, he has gotten much worse.”

Stephen was moved to Oak Tree Manor in Colchester last week, but will now not see his parents for about a month as he has to settle in to his new environment.

Mrs Andrade was told by the council that it cost £200,000 to place Stephen at St Andrews, and she believes it couldn’t possible cost more for him to live at home and have the support he needs, which is her ultimate goal.

“NHS England didn’t want him to go there (Oak Tree Manor) but they realised that there is no other choice for him,” she said.

“And I realised myself that there isn’t anywhere else available.

“Islington social services have said that before he can have 24 hour care at home they have to see that he can be helped and improve so we have to agree to these terms.

“Anything has to be better than what he had before, we know that Oak Tree Manor will keep him busy and they have an excellent occupational therapy team.

“We’re quite optimistic but the fight doesn’t end here.”