I WATCHED the excellent BBC1 Scotland Disclosure episode on Monday evening (August 15). I have personal experience of autism as well as nine years' professional involvement working with parents and training professionals. I was horrified when it became clear that the nurses, care staff and psychiatrists looking after the adults, whose experiences were included in the programme, seemed to have very little understanding of autism and how to look after autistic adults.

Most of the behaviours mentioned, some of which had been criminalised, can be explained by the way they were being treated by staff. The first rule when working with people with autism is to avoid confrontation. Confrontation is often met with an uncontrolled response, as the person cannot communicate their frustration in any other way. Locking a person with autism in their room will almost certainly result in a violent response – often the room will be damaged and any adult who intervenes is at physical risk. Change of routine is also very difficult to cope with. A new member of staff or any unexpected event can result in a meltdown. Sensory issues are also bound to arise when an autistic adult is in a hospital setting. The impact of loud noise and smells can cause a heightened response which will impact behaviour.

The long-term detention of these adults in various hospital settings including Carstairs is completely unacceptable in a civilised society. There is a duty on the Scottish Government to provide the right support for adults and children with autism whatever the cost. Proper extensive training is required and, whilst autism is a result of neurodiversity rather than mental illness, it still needs to be included in the training of mental health nurses.

I was appalled at the interview with Kevin Stewart, Minister for Mental Wellbeing and Social Care. His contribution was to say that the situation was unacceptable, which is clearly true. Unfortunately, he appeared to have no concrete ideas on how to resolve the issue. My heart goes out to the brave parents and advocates who are fighting to get the right support for these adults to enable them to live a decent and fulfilling life in their community.

Barrie Cooper, Castle Douglas.


WHY does the herring gull enjoy protected status? The fact that its numbers have declined in recent years can hardly be sufficient justification. Or should all species be protected for the sake of it? We wouldn’t protect the tsetse fly, the anopheles (malarial) mosquito or the parasitic "eyeworm", loa loa.

Some have suggested ridding the country of the entire herring gull species. But wholesale slaughter is not the answer.

However, if the wretched bird’s protected status were removed it would make it easier for local authorities and householders to do more, for example enabling the removal of nests from urban roofs or elsewhere without jumping through hoops in order to secure permissory licences from bodies that would prefer not to provide them.

Removing that protected status would also save us some of the grief we currently endure without having to resort to criminality. For, currently, if you harm a herring gull, you run the risk of being thrown in the chokey.

The herring gull is mind-numbingly cacophonous, an indiscriminate vandaliser of property, and causes palpable distress to many. It confers few benefits on the world at large or humankind specifically.

A Parliamentary Petition calling for its protected status to be removed can be found at https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/621690.

Signing it may help bring some sanity back to the management of our relationships with wildlife.

William Millar, Edinburgh.

• GORDON Hardie (Letters, August 16) claims to know his birds, but his knowledge of crows is deficient. A crow is not a specific species, but refers to the Corvus genus, which includes a number of species including the carrion crow, rook, hooded crow, raven, chough, magpie, jay – and jackdaw.

Jackdaws are members of the crow family. Therefore it was correct to describe the bird in the photograph as a crow.

Kevin Crowe, Wick.


ANDY Wightman's findings on the accumulation of land by a few individual owners and his plans to democratise the ownership of land and property ("One-third of Scotland owned by fewer than 300 landowners, says campaigner", The Herald, August 15) reminds me of the story related by Mr Wightman in his powerful social history The Poor Had No Lawyers.

The story ran as follows: a Scottish miner meets up with the owner of the land he was walking through. The miner had been doing a bit of poaching in the form of a couple of pheasants. The owner pointed out that the land was his and that the birds should be handed over. The miner asked him how he had obtained the land. The owner replied from his father, and that his father had got it from his father. The land had been owned by the family for hundreds of years. The miner asked how the family had originally acquired the land and he was told that they had fought for it.

The miner unabashed came back with: "Well, take your jacket off and let us fight for it now."

The implication behind the story, of course, is that there is much of Scotland originally acquired by those with the desire to have it and the force to secure it. It is unlikely, however, that Scotland would have been unique in that sense.

Ian W Thomson, Lenzie.


I AM increasingly distressed by the falling standards of English in our media, viz the Government are instead of the Government is.

In Brian Taylor's column ("Stand by for Indyref2. Eventually. Probably...", The Herald, August 15), "an historical fact" is mentioned. Should it not be "a historical fact"?

Alistair Johnston, Hamilton.


WELL done, JB Drummond (Letters, August 16). I agree that not many men can claim to have given away their widowed mother-in-law when she remarried.

I have a brave friend who claims that his mother-in-law is employed to swim in Loch Ness at the start of the tourist season by Visit Scotland.

Not many men can do that.

R Russell Smith, Largs.