In a message dated 17/06/02 15:56:14 GMT Daylight Time, writes:
   Subj:Treatment of autistic adult by Virgin Rail staff
   Date:17/06/02 15:56:14 GMT Daylight Time
  Sent from the Internet

  142 Goosemoor Lane
  B23 5QE
  Tel. 0121 605 6358
  17th June 2001

  Dear National Austism Society

  (Sent to Virgin Rail and VirginAirCrewLies Website too).

On Saturday 1st June 2002 I boarded the 9.35 am Virgin Rail service to Glasgow at New Street Station in Birmingham. I was seated in the last carriage and after a time it became apparent that one passenger was being a bit of a nuisance. I was able to reasonably ascertain that this adult Asian man, travelling alone, was autistic however.

To me what constitutes a nuisance is subjective of course, and I believe autism is only a "nuisance" in a social setting, a sort of `breaking of the rules', unlike say hooligan behaviour which is all to prevalent on public transport. So I'll give an example of what was going on with him and other passengers.

  "Can I hold your baby"
  "Can I touch your baby"
  "How old is your baby"
You get the idea, only a nuisance in a social setting, not obeying the "rules". He was not threatening and didn't do anything people told him not too (once he had asked).

 As we approached northern areas such as Manchester and Stockport I was aware that a Virgin Rail staff member was making enquiries in the carriage but didn't take that much notice.

 A bit further along the journey in this half-full carriage the person I assume was autistic introduced himself to me as Richard Windsor (aged about 25 I would say) travelling to Glasgow. We were chatting but then the Virgin Rail staff member called him out of the carriage. I should have gone along to explain or volunteered to sit with him on the journey ( feel a bit bad now that I did neither) but thought maybe the staff member would understand, it seemed obvious to me.

 At Lancaster station the autistic man was put off the train ( I should have protested then too. I have seen TV documentaries about Virgin staff though and they are often not nice in such circumstances). The man was removed by force onto the pavement outside the station by the staff member when he began walking up the platform but not directly out. This was disturbing to witness as it appears Virgin Rail have no understanding of austism.

  The staff member then remained on the platform laughing with other rail staff as the train pulled out.

  Not nice.

  At Glasgow there were Asians waiting (maybe for him I don't know as I didn't ask them. Another one of those situations where you'd think you'd do something but you don't) but so far from his destination he may have got into further difficulties.

  Yours Faithfully

              Gary O'Brien

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