Father's fear autistic son will 'dive through' window of unsafe West Hampstead home

Two years a severely autistic child's head went through this kitchen window

Two years a severely autistic child's head went through the kitchen window of a Camden property, which remains unrepaired, and other windows presenting a similar danger - Credit: Nathalie Raffray

A disabled West Hampstead father has pleaded to be rehomed in a ground-floor flat for fear his autistic son will fall through a third-floor window.

Michael (not his real name) has been battling Camden Council for the last two years while issues at his one-bed flat have escalated.

His six year old non-verbal son is severely autistic, with sensory difficulties and limited safety awareness.

In February 2020 his head went through the kitchen window while his dad's back was turned.

The window remains boarded up and all other windows in the one-bedroom flat are closed when he is home. 

No repairs have been done and the family have yet to be moved to a suitable three-bedroom property, despite access to Camden's support services and occupational therapists.

The council says it is waiting for one to become available.

A narrow spiral staircase

A narrow spiral staircase leading to an autistic boy's bedroom, which he's fallen down multiple times - Credit: Nathalie Raffray

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An occupational therapy letter from the child's school in July last year and Camden's occupational therapy form in April both highlighted the "inappropriate housing", including nails coming through the bedroom floor.

"My biggest fear is that he will wake up while I'm asleep and high dive through the window, " said Michael.

Dangerously steep and narrow staircase leading from an autistic child's bedroom

Dangerously steep and narrow staircase leading from an autistic child's bedroom - Credit: Nathalie Raffray

He said his son frequently falls down the narrow spiral staircase from his room in the loft and has "smashed his head against the wall" on occasions.

He climbs on worktops, cupboards and the oven, and has a history of jumping in and out of the bath and injuring himself.

Michael sleeps on a mattress in the living room, where he is often joined by his son at 5am.

His 12-year-old daughter sleeps on the sofa.

"It's hard. It hurts my back and hurts my neck," she told the Ham&High. "It's easy to wake up but it's hard to go to sleep."

Michael said: "Camden don't care. They are so neglectful. I've had social workers and Zoom calls and nothing happens."

Anyway with a ledge is child's play for a six-year-old autistic boy

Anyway with a ledge is child's play for a six-year-old autistic boy - Credit: Anyway with a ledge is child's play for a six-year-old autistic boy

A Camden Council spokesperson said: “We agree that the family has a high-level of need and we will be offering them a suitable three-bed, ground floor home."

They added a home needs to become available before they can make a specific offer but "these types of homes are hard to come by".

They said the council would "ensure any outstanding repairs and adaptions are carried out as soon as possible”.