Mother’s regret at not staying with autistic son after overdose, inquest hears

PUBLISHED: 16:46 13 September 2019 | UPDATED: 17:04 13 September 2019

Tyla Cook, 16, died in November 2017. Picture: Tyla Cook's family

Tyla Cook, 16, died in November 2017. Picture: Tyla Cook's family


A mother whose son died after an overdose has described her regret after she left him in the hands of health professionals who ‘did not know him well’.

The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King's Lynn pictured in 2018. Picture: Ian BurtThe Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King's Lynn pictured in 2018. Picture: Ian Burt

Tyla Cook, 16, who struggled with gender identity and mental health issues, died at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) in King's Lynn on November 15, 2017, six days after being admitted to hospital.

During a five-day inquest, held this week at Norfolk Coroners Court in Norwich, Mr Cook's mother, Stacy Drake, described her frustration after not being able to help her son to calm down after he refused to leave an ambulance.

She told the court that due to the teen's autism she was used to not getting communicative replies and being able to read his body language.

When staff at Thurlow House in King's Lynn first discovered Tyla had overdosed, Ms Drake went in to talk to her son.

She explained that he needed to go to the hospital for treatment but she did not get a response. Dr Lauren Coates told the court that Ms Drake's presence had made Mr Cook more agitated.

Ms Drake said: "Tyla didn't verbalise many things so I learnt to read his body language.

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"I knew the way he would show emotion and he grimaced on the word 'hospital'. His agitation changed when he knew he'd be going to the hospital."

She added: "I made an unwise choice to leave that room and leave it in professional hands of Annabella Hudson and Dr Coates, who didn't know my son well."

When the ambulance arrived at the QEH nurse Alexandria Webster was told by care provider Mrs Hudson that Ms Drake was "passive aggressive".

Ms Webster, a children's disability liaison nurse, told the court that she took the advice as Mrs Hudson was a professional and did not involve Ms Drake who was in A and E.

She said: "It could have helped a little but I felt the Mrs Hudson and Dr Coates understood dealing with autism, I know now that was not the case.

"Parents are the expert for their children no matter if they have autism or not."

Ms Drake was not updated on the condition of her son until he had been placed in a coma.

He died six days later after he deteriorated and suffered a cardiac arrest.

The inquest continues.

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