April 20, 2009
A teenage British boy with a form of autism is stranded in Australia because he is too scared to travel by air or sea home to England.
Thomas Hill's family moved to Sydney in January 2008 to start a new life but decided to return recently because they were homesick.
But 16-year-old Thomas, who has been diagnosed with Asperger syndrome, is still in Sydney with his mum Lisa because he has panic attacks about travelling.
He has tried three times to return to England, where his father Jason and 13-year-old sister Rebecca are waiting, but has failed each time.
"I'm worried sick," his father told The Sun newspaper on Monday.
"Thomas won't fly and our effort to get him home by boat failed miserably. My wife was sobbing hysterically when she phoned to tell me they had to get off the ship.
"We had used all our savings to pay STG7,500 ($A15,293.64) for a two-month cruise from Sydney to Britain as Thomas said he would go on a boat.
"But when he got on the ship he suffered a panic attack and freaked out. The ship's doctor saw him and said he couldn't travel."
Thomas made the original trip to Australia after being given sedatives before boarding a flight.
But two attempts at getting him on a plane to fly back to Britain have failed.
The first attempt resulted in Thomas refusing to board, while on the second he jumped out of his seat and started screaming as the plane taxied along the airport runway.
Mr Hill said the family had been advised to pay for a doctor to fly business class with Thomas and give him sedatives during the trip.
"The cost is enormous and we don't have the money," Mr Hill said.
"Our only glimmer of hope is that some airline will take pity on us and help."
© 2009 AAP