A new initiative has been launched across the Grampian region to help address the challenges faced by people with autism who are victims of crime and accidents.

The Autism Alert card will help to ensure those with the condition are quickly identified. Featuring the Grampian Police logo, it includes details of a contact who can lead police and/or support organisations through the best ways to help the individual with autism through what can be a highly pressurised experience.

It can also be used in a day-to-day context, helping ease communication and understanding challenges when someone with autism is shopping, at a social event, using leisure facilities or public transport.

The initiative is supported by: Grampian Police; Mark McDonald, MSP for North East Scotland; The National Autistic Society (NAS) Scotland; G4S; Aberdeen City, Moray and Aberdeenshire Councils and autism charities Autism Initiatives and Grampian Autistic Society.

NAS Scotland is encouraging all young people and adults with autism across the region to apply for a card. An estimated 50,000 people in Scotland have autism, with nearly 6,000 thought to live in the Grampian region.

Dr Robert Moffat, national director of NAS Scotland, said: “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, disorientated by complex speech and easily misinterpret others’ intentions. In an environment of serious crime or medical emergency these types of misunderstandings can have serious consequences.

“NAS Scotland welcomes 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 Grampian Police and other organisations are autism aware, and helps people with autism to access the same rights most of us take for granted.”