Latin America & Caribbean

Mexican man with Asperger's syndrome wins court battle

Ricardo Adair, May 13
Image caption Ricardo Adair began his legal case two years ago

A 25-year-old Mexican with the autistic condition Asperger's has won the right to make key decisions about his life without parental consent.

The Supreme Court ruled in favour of Ricardo Adair by four votes to one.

Mr Adair said that Mexican legislation violated the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

It banned him from doing simple tasks by himself, such as applying for a passport, because of his condition.

A judge will be appointed to agree which decisions Mr Adair will be allowed to make without the consent of a parent or guardian.

The groundbreaking ruling is expected to have wider implications for the rights of people with autism in Latin America, says the BBC's Will Grant.

'Great step forward'

"I want to be allowed to decide what to do, where to go, where and with whom I want to live or travel, where to work or study," Mr Adair told the Mexican Supreme Court.

Image caption Mr Adair's mother, Leticia Robles, supported him in the battle for equal rights

Mexican legislation makes straightforward tasks, such as buying a mobile phone, enrolling in university or applying for a driving licence, very difficult for people with Asperger's syndrome or other forms of autism.

Mr Adair said all papers had to be signed by his parents or legal guardians.

He began his battle two years ago and has been supported in his fight by a non-profit organisation.

"All we wanted was for Ricardo's own free will to come first, and now the court has recognised that," his lawyer, Andres Gomez Montt, told the BBC.

Mr Adair said he wanted to read the full court ruling before making further comments, but expressed his satisfaction at the decision.

"They have asserted our rights and I believe this is a great step forward," he said.

Mexican legislation on people with disabilities was drafted with the intention of protecting them, by taking away legal responsibility for their actions, but Mr Adair's mother says the law is out of date.

"Many children have different levels of disability. Some need more support, some need less. This should be about giving to each one what they need," Leticia Robles told BBC Mundo earlier this year.

The UN's World Health Organization describes autism spectrum disorders as "a group of complex brain development disorders".

It affects one in each 160 children around the world on average, the WHO says.

"These disorders [which include Asperger's syndrome] are characterized by difficulties in social interaction and communication and a restricted and repetitive repertoire of interests and activities."

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