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30 November 2015, 13:54
A new card designed to help people with autism is launched by partners across Devon.
Devon & Cornwall police are hoping the autism alert card will help officers and other emergency services identify people on the autistic spectrum, and will support improved engagement.
Police officers will also be provided with awareness information as to how they can adapt and improve their communication style according to an autistic individual's needs, and better respond to situations involving autistic people.
The card will be carried by people with the condition, and it's hoped the card can potentially help any situation 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, says "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".
Devon County Council's Cabinet Member with responsibility for adult social care and health, Cllr Stuart Barker, says "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."
Superintendent Sam de Reya's 14 year old son Adam has the condition, she says " As a police officer I think we should all be aware of it and it's great that we all have this tool that we can use.
"As a mum it's not only about giving him confidence that he has this card in his pocket, but for me it's having something there that's got my numbers on it that he can produce if he's in a situation where he's unsure or is having difficulty communicating".
It is hoped that the autism alert card, will also support enhanced understanding with other service providers including local councils, health service and other emergency services, in fact, any person coming into contact or conflict with a person on the autism spectrum.
The autism alert card will be free and available to people with autism who live in Devon initially, but talks are currently underway to roll out the card across Cornwall.
To apply for a card follow the link from the Dimensions for Living website; www.dimensionsforliving.org/x8