autism Alert cards are now available to the 10,000 Lothian and Borders residents who have autism, so that should they be involved in an accident or be a victim of crime they can be quickly identified by the police and other emergency services.
Leading autism charities see the card as a breakthrough, and are encouraging all young people and adults with autism to apply.
Featuring the Lothian and Borders Police logo, the card will include details of an expert advisor and a personal contact who can help the emergency services support the individual with autism in what can be a highly pressurised experience.
Autism is known as the ‘invisible disability’, because those with the condition can appear to function well, while often experiencing severe challenges in communication and social situations. Being a victim of a crime or accident can be a stressful experience for anyone. But for someone with autism it can be particularly disorientating and frightening.
People with the condition often have difficulty understanding facial expressions, can be very literal in their understanding of questions and easily misinterpret other people’s intentions which can have serious consequences in the environment of serious crime or a medical emergency.
Steve Allen, deputy chief constable of Lothian and Borders Police said: “We welcome the introduction of the new Autism Alert card which will allow our officers to quickly identify a card-holder’s condition, improve understanding of their needs and offer them the best possible support.
“Our staff will continue to support and encourage those who would benefit from using the card, to apply for and use it each and every time they need our help or assistance.”
Dr Robert Moffat, national director of NAS Scotland said, “The new Autism Alert card is a crucial step in ensuring Lothian and Borders Police are autism aware, and helps people with autism in the local area access the same rights most of us take for granted.”