Name: Tony Porter.
Died: February 21, 2016.
Age at death: 33.
Cause of death: Neglect (Given no help despite being homeless and unable to care for himself).
Location: Milton Keynes, England, UK.
Tony was autistic, undiagnosed, and did not have the skills he needed for independent living. He soon developed problems with drinking and drug abuse, was evicted for not being able to pay the rent, and then was kicked out of the YMCA because he was drinking. Tony had been hospitalized multiple times, including for the dangerous seizures that come with alcohol withdrawal.
During his regular contact with both police and hospitals, people who interacted with him reported that he seemed “child-like” and unable to do anything about his situation. A police medical examiner asked a judge to consider having Tony hospitalized involuntarily, because if he was not helped, he would stay on the streets, drinking and endangering his health further. He was finally diagnosed with autism.
But Tony was discharged from the hospital, and nothing was done for weeks… and then it was too late to do anything, because Tony was found dead, frozen to death on a sidewalk outside a church.
An investigation into Tony’s death called it “predictable and preventable”.
Editor’s note: Tony’s death from addiction and homelessness highlights the problems often faced by people with so-called “mild” autism who go undiagnosed and unsupported. Able to speak and take care of their own basic needs, these autistics are often left without any support, since it is assumed they do not need any. As it did for Tony, this can end in homelessness and tragedy.