New card launched to help autistic adults

A new card to help emergency services deal with people with autism has been launched.

The Autism Alert card will be carried by adults with the condition in Lothian and Borders and can be shown to the emergency services.

It will include details of a personal contact and expert contact who can tell police and other services how best to deal with the autistic person.

People with autism can have severe communication and social problems and dealing with the police can be hard for them.

Jennifer Bruce from Kirkliston in Edinburgh said the card was "vital" after her own experience with the police.

The 25-year-old said: "It is so important that police and emergency services know that a person has autism.

"I was at a friend's house when police were called, following a complaint from neighbours. I was not directly involved, but still found the situation frightening. The police, in their black and yellow uniforms looked intimidating to me.

"My Asperger syndrome means I can find reading non-verbal communication such as body language a real challenge. The police didn't know I had autism so didn't explain to me what was going on in a way I could understand. If I could have produced an Autism Alert card, I believe it would have helped make the situation less stressful."

The card has already been launched in Strathclyde and the Highlands and will be rolled out across the country.

Dr Robert Moffat, national director of NAS Scotland said: "NAS Scotland is delighted to be in a partnership that addresses the unique challenges faced by people with autism in such a sensible, straightforward and effective way. 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."

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.

"Supporting our communities and reducing risk, especially for those with the greatest needs, is at the heart of Lothian and Borders Police. 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."

People with autism can apply for the card by calling 0131 551 7260 or email alertcard@aiscotland.org.uk.

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