An autism alert card has been launched this week. The card will help emergency services identify people on the autistic spectrum and help improve engagement
It is hoped that the card will help situations in which a person with autism finds it difficult to express themselves, or make themselves understood.
Devon County Council and Plymouth City Council have funded development of the card, in partnership with the charity Dimensions for Living, which supports people with autism, the charity Devon Link-Up, and Devon & Cornwall Police.
Barbara Wilson from Dimensions for Living, said; “This card scheme is incredibly important and a terrific step forward. It will provide autistic people with the confidence that there will be a better understanding of their condition especially amongst emergency services. It will be a valuable tool for officers and support them to better deal with behaviour that may be presented in a situation/incident. I hope the card will prove to be a tool that will enable both police officers and persons on the autism spectrum to respect each other and work together to enable better outcomes.
Chief Constable Shaun Sawyer said: ‘Devon and Cornwall Police is proud to support the Autism Alert Card Scheme to raise awareness of autism and to improve our interactions with autistic people. We are committed to identifying and protecting vulnerable members of our communities, some of whom may be autistic whilst also safeguarding all those in need.’
Devon County Council’s Cabinet Member with responsibility for adult social care and health, Cllr Stuart Barker, said: “Situations and interactions with other people that most people take for granted can be a challenge for people with autism. Independence, as much as possible, is something that is important to all of us, and this card will help people who sometimes find that more challenging than others.
“This card will help people with autism feel more confident in their day to day lives and the interactions they have with others, such as the police and other emergency services.”
Councillor Ian Tuffin, Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care for Plymouth City Council, said: “We want to make Plymouth an Autism Friendly city where people with autism are respected and valued as equal citizens. Plymouth recognises the importance of how people interact with the police and emergency services and acknowledge the value of implementing the Autism Alert Card across the region. Plymouth City Council is keen to work in partnership to ensure that we collectively respond to the needs of vulnerable people by offering solutions that help and empower.”
The autism alert card will be free and available to people with autism who live in Devon initially (although Cornwall in the near future). To apply for a card follow the link from the Dimensions for Living website; www.dimensionsforliving.org/x8