Berkshire Autism Alert Card gets new look as scheme expands scope

The Berkshire Autism Alert Card was launched in 2010 to provide a quick and easy way for autistic people of all ages, and their parents or carers, to explain the condition quickly and easily to others, and boost their confidence when they are out and about.

It quickly proved popular and almost 1,900 cards are now in use.

To mark the card’s 10th anniversary, it was decided to come up with a new design and to expand the scope of the scheme, with the support of Thames Valley Police.

The new look for the card was created by Eden Sinclair, a graphic designer who graduated from the University of Reading last year and is herself autistic.

The other big change is that cardholders – or the person applying their behalf, such as parents and support workers – can now choose to share some information about their autism with the police.

Examples could include someone’s high levels of anxiety in stressful situations; sensory issues, such as reactions to loud noises or bright lights; and how best to help an autistic person who is having a meltdown or shutdown.

The aim is to help police officers understand how autism may affect an individual’s behaviour if they need assistance; they become a victim of crime; are a witness; or are taken into custody.

If someone opts to share information about their autism when applying for or renewing an alert card, the details are held in a secure police database and can be accessed when officers are shown the card.

Police officers in Berkshire are being trained about the card in a rolling programme, starting in the Reading and Bracknell & Wokingham policing areas, with West Berkshire, Slough and Windsor & Maidenhead to follow. It is hoped that similar autism alert card schemes will be introduced in future to cover the rest of the Thames Valley.

Autism Berkshire’s chief executive officer, Jane Stanford-Beale said: “We have already had a really positive reaction from cardholders and their families to the new design – and to the opportunity to provide some extra information that can help police provide appropriate support to a cardholder.

“We are delighted to have been able to work with Thames Valley Police to make these valuable improvements to the alert card scheme.”

Detective Chief Inspector Simon Steel, pictured above, of the Policing Strategy Unit at Thames Valley Police, said: “We recognise that some people who are autistic may find it more challenging to communicate with our officers or staff when they have a reason to contact us.

“When someone who is autistic chooses to share their information about how they may act in a certain situation with police when they sign up to a Berkshire Autism Alert Card, it is a positive step towards ensuring we can have the most meaningful interaction. This helps to break down barriers to communication and assists us in being able to provide the best possible service.”

  • Click here for full details about the Berkshire Autism Alert Card and the online application form. A printable application form can be downloaded from the same page, which can be posted to us.