An 11-year-old girl with autism was abandoned by the side of the road in Manchester, England, after the cab driver wanted her to pay more money — which she didn’t have, the Manchester Evening News is reporting.
Though high-functioning, because of her autism, Lucy Devlin has issues with crowds, so she can’t take public transportation such as the school bus or city buses. Her parents aren’t always able to drive her to school, so they worked out an arrangement with a local cab company: £4 (that is, about $6.41) each way, which Lucy would pay in advance, according to the Mirror.
However, on Tuesday, either the Denton’s Call-a-Car cab driver wasn’t aware of the arrangement or didn’t care, because when the meter hit £4 — even though they were a quarter of a mile from Lucy’s school — the cabbie told her to pay extra. And when she couldn’t, he threw her out.
As any parent of an autistic child can confirm, people with autism — even high-functioning people with autism, such as Lucy — do not respond well to changes in routine. And of course, even an 11-year-old who isn’t autistic is going to have trouble if she’s abandoned in the middle of a large city, away from where she’s supposed to be.
Her father, Peter, is not pleased.
“She said the driver asked her to get out because her £4 was up and dropped her at the wrong side of a main junction. It’s a quarter of a mile from the school and a change in her routine.”
Fortunately, the autistic girl’s dad was able to guide her to where she needed to be by giving her directions as she walked.
Still, Mr. Devlin is outraged that a cab company would abandon an 11-year-old child — especially an autistic child — over pocket change.
“For the sake of a few pence extra that I would have happily paid, it makes me angry. I trusted them with my child and I think as a basic they should get her to the destination.”
Unfortunately, members of the general public often have a hard time understanding the needs of special-needs people in public, leading to everything from simple misunderstandings — such as when a Bath & Body works manager in suburban St. Louis refused to allow a class of special-needs kids into the store — to even dangerous situations.
The manager of the cab company involved has promised to investigate why one of his employees abandoned an autistic child in the middle of town, and Lucy’s parents have taken the matter to their town’s council.
[Image courtesy of: Manchester Evening News]