Child with autism 'abandoned by the side of the road by taxi driver asking for more money'

Lucy Devlin, 11, was left crying and distressed, her parents said

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The Independent Online

An 11-year-old girl with autism has been abandoned by the side of the road by a taxi driver on her way to school near Manchester.

Lucy Devlin was left in tears on the pavement because the man demanded more money for the fare, her parents said.

They told the Manchester Evening News she gets a pre-booked taxi to Denton Community College if they cannot drive her because she is unable to use public transport.

Peter Devlin, her father, said Lucy rang him in tears saying she had been told to get out of the car on a busy junction when her £4 was up on the meter, even though it was a set price.

“It was a quarter of a mile from the school and a change in her routine,” he told the Manchester Evening News. “All I wanted was my daughter to be safe but she was absolutely beside herself and it sent me into orbit because there was nothing I could do.”

Sarah Lambert, the head of policy at the National Autistic Society (NAS) told The Independent the situation would be distressing for any child.

“With the difficulty children with autism have interacting with others and understanding the world around them, it’s even more frightening,” she added.

“They won’t necessarily know who to talk to or how to ask for help – it would be extremely frightening.”

It is not the first time people with autism have had difficulties with taxis, she said.

A man was recently refused a ride by a driver who accused him of being drunk because of the way he spoke.

Ms Lambert said many people with autism use taxis because crowded buses and trains are too stressful and deviations in routine can compound difficulties.

“If their routine is disrupted it can cause a meltdown at that particular point or it can have a long-term impact," she added.

The NAS works to improve transport firms’ understanding of autism so people with the condition get the assistance they need.

Lucy eventually made it to school after following her father’s directions on the phone and her family have reported the incident to the local council.

The owner of the taxi firm involved, Amanat Ali, said nothing like it had happened in seven years of dealing with children with special needs and the complaint was being investigated.

“If the driver has forced the child out of his taxi then I am fully behind licensing and any action they take,” he added. “We do not tolerate or condone that type of behaviour from our drivers.”

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