Autistic Hull man goes home after 15 years in hospital

Image source, Family handoutImage caption, The 32-year-old "first went into hospital when he was 17 because he tried to self-harm", says Mrs Clarke

A man with autism who has spent nearly half his life detained in a mental health hospital has been released after a long campaign by his mother.

Ryan Clarke, 32, had been in hospital since 2006.

His mother, Sharon, from Doncaster said he was "over the moon" to return home after 15 years.

In July the National Autistic Society (NAS) said the number of autistic people confined to mental health units in England was a "national scandal".

Mr Clarke was admitted to hospital over concerns he would self-harm.

He was originally diagnosed with schizophrenia, but received a revised diagnosis of autism when he was 28.

Until Monday he had spent the past five years in a forensic psychiatry unit, which also cared for patients with criminal convictions.

Mrs Clarke said her son was "ecstatic" to have been discharged and would now live independently in his own accommodation with carers.

"He was over the moon, he loved it," she said.

Image caption, Sharon Clarke and her husband, Peter, said Ryan was "excited" to be home after spending 15 years detained in a hospital

Autism is a lifelong developmental disability which affects how people communicate and interact with the world. It is a spectrum condition and affects people in different ways.

Patients can be admitted to hospital due to the lack of a care package, the need for family or carers to have some respite or because an autistic individual has mental health problems.

Mrs Clarke, who is originally from Hull but lives in Doncaster, said she had fought "tooth and nail" for her son over the past 15 years.

"He's autistic and he has repetitive phrases but I just think that was his coping mechanism whilst he was in hospital. Now I think that will stop. It will fade until it's no more.

"He will have bad days but they'll get fewer and fewer."

Her husband, Peter, said his step-son was "so happy" to live a "normal life".

"We thought he'd be overwhelmed but actually he took it really well, in his stride, and he just got so excited he wanted to do everything at once and see everything at once," he said.

"But he was just laughing and dancing and really happy."

NHS figures show the number of autistic patients detained in hospital rose from 1,105 to 1,215 between 2015 and 2021.

Speaking at the time, the Department of Health and Social Care said it was investing £62m in community services and supporting discharges from hospitals.

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