Holloway mum’s tears after winning fight for autistic son to ‘come home’

Leo Andrade and son Josh, nine, with photos of her other son Stephen Andrades-Martinez as a child. (

Leo Andrade and son Josh, nine, with photos of her other son Stephen Andrades-Martinez as a child. (Picture: Polly Hancock). - Credit: Archant

A mum who has spent four years fighting for her severely autistic son to be brought home from a mental health facility 70 miles away has finally got her wish.

Leo Andrade’s son Stephen, 21, is detained in an assessment and treatment unit (ATU) in Colchester and she can only afford to visit once a month.

She and other mothers in her position launched a campaign to bring their sons home in April, and it seems to have worked.

On Monday last week she met medical bosses who told her Stephen would be moved to a unit much closer to her home in Rixon Street, Holloway.

“All the fighting and campaigning has paid off,” said Leo, 52. “It’s such a huge weight off my shoulders. When it sunk in there were tears everywhere – it was a rollercoaster of emotions.

No decision has been made no where Stephen will be moved to, but Leo said she will speak to medical staff to find the best situation and setting to fit his needs.

Stephen’s move also means he will be downgraded to a more relaxed unit, so his nine-year-old brother Josh will also be able to see him more.

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“He adores his older brother,” said Leo. “He hasn’t seen him since December, and before then for two years – he’s so excited he will be able to see him more often now.”

After being sectioned, Stephen spent two years in a higher security unit in Northampton but was moved after Leo complained he was surrounded by drug addicts and alcoholics.

His mum also believes the medication he is on is not needed for his autism, and said he is prone to self-harm due to the anxiety he has as a result of being given it.

What’s more, his care is costing the NHS £5,000 a week. Leo claims this amount would cover the monthly cost of a carer back at home.

“Stephen will go to a home that understands his complex needs,” she said. “He will get some normality. They are treating my son’s autism like a mental illness – the drugs he is on are for people with serious psychotic issues.”