Autism awareness card launched by police

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Autism awareness card. Pic © Merseyside Police

A special needs charity has collaborated with Merseyside Police to create the autism attention card, helping protect and raise awareness of vulnerable people.

Cheshire Autism Practical Support is the organisation behind the idea, which will help people on the autism spectrum receive appropriate attention or care in an emergency.

As well as highlighting the fact the person has special circumstances, the card also includes contact information for an appropriate adult. The charity has also released a key-fob with a QR code, which can be scanned on a smartphone for helpful information on how to assist the individual.

Jo Garner founded the charity seven years ago after her son was diagnosed with the condition. She told JMU Journalism: “Around 70% of autistic people’s communication is non-verbal – they process questions and information slower and may not be able to follow instructions. This makes them vulnerable.

“I recognised that my son was going to need some support when he was out in so in 2011 I decided to approach the emergency services in Cheshire, to see if we could provide some kind of support system.”

One problem encountered when designing the card was the fact that anyone could claim to have the disability. Therefore, the charity sought a partnership with local authorities.

Jo told JMU Journalism: “This was my first task, to investigate how we secured trust in our attention card. We therefore instigated a proof of diagnosis being required, meaning emergency services can have confidence in our system.

“Therefore, it was important for us that the card had the logos of the police, fire and ambulance on it. This is unique, no other system in the country operates like this. We would like to thank Merseyside Police for their support, especially Sergeant Mike Brumskill and his team, who have worked incredibly hard to get this off the ground.”

Sergeant Brumskill said: “Merseyside Police is determined to provide the best quality of service we can for people with autism and this proven initiative will help protect vulnerable people within our communities.

“The positive response from autism support groups and partner agencies has been fantastic. Autism awareness training has also been given to police officers and this has helped many people, giving reassurance to them and their families.”

There are now 286 of the autism awareness cards in circulation, and the charity is asking for more applications. To do so, you can visit here.

YouTube: Autism Together


About Evan Fyfe, JMU Journalism