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New Attention Card helps people with autism deal with emergency services

A new scheme is being rolled out across Merseyside for people with Autism Spectrum Conditions to help to ensure they are given appropriate support by emergency services.

The Attention Card is a unique system created by Cheshire Autism Practical Support (ChAPS) working in partnership with Cheshire and Merseyside emergency services.

The card is designed to be carried by a person with a medical diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Condition or Asperger’s Syndrome. The cardholder’s details can also be voluntarily recorded onto Merseyside Police’s intelligence data system, flagging them as vulnerable should they come into contact with the emergency services for any reason.

The initiative serves the dual purpose of alerting emergency services to a cardholder’s condition as well as providing training for staff to engage more effectively with people with hidden vulnerabilities.

Autism is one of the fastest growing developmental disorders and a government survey suggests that 1 in 45 children aged 3-17 have been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder.

The initiative has been backed by Merseyside’s Police Commissioner, Jane Kennedy, who said:

“This is such a simple tool that can bring real benefits to people living with autism.

“It is not easy always for police officers and other frontline responders to identify if somebody has autism. By carrying the Attention Card, emergency services staff will be able to instantly identify that somebody is autistic and ensure they get the additional and specialist support they need.

“Protecting vulnerable people is one of my priorities for Merseyside Police, so I’m pleased to see this scheme, which has been recognised as best practice by the Home Office, rolled out across Merseyside.”

Councillor Sean Donnelly, Cabinet Member for Health and Social Care for Knowsley said:

“This is a really important tool to ensure people with autism can remain independent and avoid difficult or distressing situations in which their behaviours may be misinterpreted or misunderstood. The card allows them to quickly and easily identify themselves as having an Autism Spectrum Condition so that they can then be offered the right support by frontline services.”

To apply for the card visit Cheshire Autism Practical Support’s website.

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