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Autistic man goes home after 15 years in hospital.


An autistic man, Ryan Clarke, who has spent almost half his life detained in a mental health hospital, has been released after a long campaign by his mother.

Ryan Clarke was originally diagnosed with schizophrenia, but received a revised diagnosis of autism when he was 28. He was admitted in 2006, when he was 32 following concerns he would self-harm.

Before his release Ryan Clarke had spent the previous five years in a forensic psychiatry unit, which also cared for patients with criminal convictions.

His mother, Sharon Clarke, said her son was ‘ecstatic’ to have been discharged and would now live independently in his own accommodation with carers.

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 during the past 15 years.

She said: "He's autistic and he has repetitive phrases but I just think that was his coping mechanism whilst he was in hospital. It will fade until it's no more. He will have bad days but they'll get fewer and fewer."

Her husband, Peter, said: "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 and see everything at once. He was  laughing and dancing and really happy."

The National Autistic Society (NAS) said the government's failure to reduce the number of autistic people confined to mental health units in England was a "national scandal” and a promise to get those with the condition out of hospitals had not been met.

The NAS said that most detentions are made under the Mental Health Act 1983, despite autism itself not being a mental health disorder.

NAS mental health policy lead, Felicity Stephenson, said "As the law currently stands, you can be sectioned just for being autistic. We are failing autistic people - this is a national scandal."

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

The government said it was investing £62m in community services and supporting discharges from hospitals.