Man cautioned for hitting autistic boy, 7, from Newquay
A DISTRAUGHT mother from Newquay is calling for better understanding of people with autism and other disabilities.
Marie Ralph feels her seven-year-old son, Malachi, who also suffers with Tourette's syndrome, ADHD, sensory dysfunction and other disabilities, often faces discrimination by members of the public.
The single mum's plea comes after a 46-year-old man struck Malachi in the face, following an outburst by the child who was distressed when an argument broke out.
The man, from Staffordshire, was later given a police caution for common assault.
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But Marie, 40, of Newquay, said the incident, at Lappa Valley Steam Railway on Thursday last week, has had "traumatic repercussions" on her son, which has affected her entire family.
She said: "This has put us back so much. These people don't understand the repercussions.
"It would be bad enough with normal children, but the repercussions on our family are massive. I've had bottles thrown at me today, he's [also] sleepwalking. It has made his Tourette's very bad. This will manifest for a long time as challenging behaviour."
The single parent said she wanted to raise awareness and urged the public to be more patient with people who have disabilities.
"My main aim is to get a positive out of this and raise awareness of the condition," she said.
"People with autism deal with things differently; they process information so differently. My friend's child, who is autistic, was there with us too and keeps talking about it. This should not be happening."
Police were called to the incident at Lappa Valley, near St Newlyn East, at around 2.15pm on Thursday.
Marie has since made an official complaint to police about how they dealt with the incident and handled her case.
Her plea for more awareness of autism and disabilities has been mirrored by the National Autistic Society.
Caroline Hattersley, head of information, advice and advocacy at the society, said: "Autism is a lifelong developmental disability that affects how a person communicates with, and relates to, other people. Some people with autism are able to live relatively independent lives but others may have accompanying learning disabilities and need a lifetime of specialist support. Unlike a physical disability, it's a hidden condition and it's important that we raise public awareness so that everyone with autism receives the understanding they need."
A spokesman for Devon and Cornwall Police said: "We understand an official complaint is being made against an officer. It would be inappropriate to comment about this incident until this matter has been properly dealt with."