I will start with the circumstances regarding Zoe Zaremba’s situation because I knew her via the #ActuallyAutistic community on twitter. I have previously spoken to her directly about our experiences within the mental health system alongside an Autism diagnosis. We started communicating a while ago due to sharing similar experiences within the mental health/social care system. We had basically both been failed in similar ways. Although, I am now in my thirties when she was only 25. It sounded like she was still in the thick of the unhelpful mental health support system. Many of us are now aware that she went missing, then unfortunately, her body was found eight days later. These cases are extremely sad but not a rare occurrence. Those of us that knew her via the Autistic community only found out what had happened because of the news article being shared between us. She was one in many people who have lost their lives due to being failed by the services. I don’t know the full details but most of those that have lost their lives have been neglected by services; subsequently having been left in a mess they either become reckless or suicidal due to mental health problems (and in some cases medical problems) becoming severe. Zoe was just one example of the system failing those with mental health problems and autism etc. There has already been several people approaching the local council support saying that they are to blame for her death. I cannot confirm or deny that fact. I wasn’t directly involved in the case so I do not know what fully led up to the outcome. The council where I live failed me too, but somehow I’m still surviving despite having my suicidal low points a handful amount of times in a year. I have unhealthy ways of coping which is probably extremely self destructive but I count myself lucky that I’m still alive at this age after everything that has happened to me. I didn’t think that I would make it passed 30 due to how things affected me. I had my son at 24, by her age I was a Mum but still similar in regards to naivety and vulnerability or I wouldn’t have lost my son to adoption. I know that it’s even harder to be a younger autistic person. I noticed how different I was in comparison to others during my 20s. I seem to remember that my mind was always busy and tormented. I only seem to have settled down after ending up in Prison in 2018 because I knew that I couldn’t live that way any longer.
I now get to the second case of Jonty Bravery that was in the news yesterday. He was jailed for 15 years for throwing a 6 year old child from a viewing balcony of the Tate modern gallery, London. The child didn’t die but sustained life changing injuries which has resulted in him needing a wheelchair and also requiring 24 hour care. He is described as ‘autistic with a mixed personality disorder’. He was known to have a ‘history of violent conduct’ and his support staff was fully aware of his intent to kill someone a year before he carried out his premeditated actions. He was under ‘supported accommodation via the care of Hammersmith and Fulham social services with one-to-one supervision’. I will never condone his actions towards the little boy or having an intent to kill another whatsoever. I fully disapprove of violence, let alone intention to kill, as part of my moral fiber. I would like to point out a few things in relation to this case. The court report quoted ‘ at the time of the incident, Bravery said he had done it because he had wanted to appear on the television news’, ‘later he was also heard to have said “It’s not my fault, it’s social services fault”. Then there were comments that he said to police such as ‘he had been seriously unhappy recently felt like he had to do something to get out of his accommodation’. He had even gone as far as researching how to kill someone, picking his preferred methods. He openly made a point of saying he had to ‘prove a point to every idiot who had ever said that he didn’t have a mental health problem that he shouldn’t be in the community. Despite this being quite a bizarre attempt at asking for proper appropriate mental health help, it sounds like he was actually crying out for help after he first expressed his feelings to his support staff. He wanted to go to Prison for a long time because he knew that he wasn’t ‘mentally safe’. The only way that someone gets decades in Prison is by carrying out a brutal act like murder. He was just 17 when he actually attempted his plan. He must have been 16 when he was planning this act the previous year. I know what it’s like to be that age. I did stupid things to cry for help but I didn’t know that this was the reason I was acting that way at that point. That brings me on to my reoccurring point that I’ve made several times over a number of years. Those of us that are autistic look younger in many cases. We might also have brains that age slower, meaning that we mature at a slower rate too. I have always felt a decade behind my actual age group. The stupid things I did as a teenager (may I point out that it would never have been to the same degree as this act) probably was equivalent to using the decision/thinking process of barely someone who has reached the age of criminal responsibility (10 years old). I was the same age as the teenager in this case. His thinking sounds like a child’s thought process in the way that it seems to involve simple logic that an adult normally complicates to equate to some form of whole picture which tells them that the plan isn’t right and/or appropriate to actually carry out in reality. I’m 33 this year. I still have a thought process of a twenty something. I still had the thought process of a teen in my twenties. I have taken longer to mature which involves logical decision making evolving from reckless to safe. I still have my moments when I get annoyed at things that I feel is injustice. However, I think all of us that absolutely can’t stand injustice will always have those times with the state of the world we live in. I think that someone should do research into whether we are biologically backward in thought processes and cognitive development. I’m not a professional. I do not have the means or resources to carry out the research but I’m more than happy to join a taskforce attempting that kind of task.
We need to remember that behind each ‘case’ of the above circumstances, there are people involved. I hope that the young boy who was attacked by the teenager doesn’t grow up thinking that all those labelled with autism and personality disorder exist to potentially harm him. Each time something tragic happens which ends in a death or severe injury at the hands of an autistic or someone with mental health issues I personally feel like I should do more as an individual. In reality, I’m only doing as much as humanly possible. There was a ten year old girl called Rosie killed at a Christmas party back in 2004 (when I had just been diagnosed with Aspergers Syndrome) by 17 year old, Paul Smith, diagnosed with the same condition. Apparently, there had been previous attacks on victims of similar ages. That reflects negatively on the rest of us that were growing up at that time. I was the exact same age as this boy at the time this incident occurred. I got treated negatively, labelled and sent away to a hospital after my convictions (like many others did due to the stigma of high profile cases). There have been parents within the last 24 hours, since the news of sentencing and case details were released, fearing that this latest case will have an impact on the way that their children’s issues are viewed. I would hate to see history to repeat itself for the next generation of autistics who are currently only teenagers or younger at this time. The stigma is extremely soul destroying. The labels are brutally unfair when it comes to individuals that get swept up into categories after these high profile cases. I’ve even tried to reach out to the Rosie May’s parents who run the foundation named after her. I didn’t get a reply at the time I tried to bridge the gap between how they see autism due to what happened to their daughter and trying to get them to see that not all of us were a danger. I suggested that we worked together to create a future where both their daughters legacy could live on but autistics weren’t demonised. I understand that they will always remain bitter towards autistics because the actions of one autistic led to their daughters death. I have one major goal in life. That is to help others find their peace from everything that has ever hurt them. I know its hard. I haven’t truly found my peace with things in my life yet but I honestly believe that it is possible. I’m not a believer in god. However, I believe that when we join together as people, the changes we can bring to society, the world and everything in it, can bring much needed circumstances for the majority of us who are different.