The National Autistic Society (NAS) has strongly criticised media personality Katie Hopkins for a series of offensive tweets she sent about a girl with autism during the transmission of Channel 4 programme Born Naughty?
Born Naughty? is a series about children with behavioural issues. The first episode, broadcast on May 14, dealt with two children, one of whom, Honey, received a diagnosis of pathological demand avoidance and mild autism over the course of the programme.
Honey was shown to have some behaviours that challenged, including making threats to kill classmates who teased her, but now she has received treatment she is leading a better and more comfortable life.
Hopkins tweeted throughout the show, including:
“Honey's mum is thrilled her daughter has pathological demand avoidance. Now a whole world of funding has opened up to her #bornnaughty”
And: “Honey can't complete the autism assessment as she is too busy being a complete twat. But the shit mum assessment is complete #bornnaughty”
But Jane Harris, director of external affairs and social change at the NAS, reacted strongly to these tweets: “It's unacceptable to talk about children in this aggressive way, regardless of whether they have a diagnosed condition like autism or not.
“We recognise that writing to shock and offend is what Katie does, and nothing we can say will change that, but this is a new low. As well as being offensive, her comments took people’s attention away from the important issues raised in Born Naughty?
“Most concerning for us was how she made light of the importance of a diagnosis and getting the right support for the 1 in 100 people who are diagnosed with autism. In many areas of the country, parents have to wait for years for an assessment and diagnosis, not knowing how best to support their child. We should be focusing on what we can do to bring waiting times for assessments down and improve the support people get after diagnosis.
“Despite the judgemental and damaging nature of her tweets, we were encouraged to see people responding by showing they understand the very real challenges faced by the estimated 2.8 million individuals and families affected by autism in the UK. If Katie wants to really understand autism, we would like to invite her to come to meet some members of The National Autistic Society and hear about the challenges they face every day.”