'Heartbreaking' story of drowned learning-disabled boy to JKP

'Heartbreaking' story of drowned learning-disabled boy to JKP

Jessica Kingsley Publishers is to release Justice for Laughing Boy, the story of a learning-disabled teenager who drowned while staying at a specialist NHS unit, written by his mother, Sara Ryan.

Ryan's son Connor Sparrowhawk, whose nickname was Laughing Boy, who had epilepsy and autism, suffered an epileptic seizure in the bath while staying at Slade House in Oxford, and drowned, with no member of staff on hand to prevent it.

Following Sparrowhawk's death, Ryan set up the #JusticeforLB campaign – a "rallying" cry for all learning-disabled people experiencing injustices from the organisations meant to support them. The campaign gained momentum and national attention, ultimately leading to high-profile inquiries which exposed the shocking number of "unexpected" and premature deaths among people with learning disabilities in healthcare settings. More than 700 of these deaths were within the same NHS Trust that had failed Sparrowhawk.

Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust, which ran the care unit where Sparrowhawk died, is currently facing prosecution for the exposed failings.

The "funny, heart-breaking and infuriating" book will tell an "extremely uncomfortable" truth about the experiences of learning-disabled people in inpatient settings, and society’s attitude towards them, the publisher said. "Can we really claim that we respect the lives of learning-disabled people when such preventable tragedies are still happening today?"

Justice for Laughing Boy will be published on the 19th October