Page last updated at 15:30 GMT, Tuesday, 26 May 2009 16:30 UK

Card to raise autism awareness

Lisa Pitkeathly and Gary Barnett with the card
The cards are part of an awareness-raising initiative

Hundreds of cards will be handed out in County Durham under a scheme to improve communication between the police and those with an autism disorder.

Durham Police has teamed up with the National Autistic Society (NAS) to launch the scheme.

They are credit card sized and list how the bearer's condition might affect their behaviour.

It is hoped it will help to ease situations and clear up problems before they become an issue.

The cards also have a helpline number for the society and the bearer's personal details.

'Reduce anxiety'

Durham Deputy Chief Constable Gary Barnett said: "Our officers need to be particularly aware of the challenges facing people with autism.

"The alert card is a simple but effective way to quickly identify anyone with the condition and ensure any difficulties in communicating are resolved."

Autism awareness in the force is also being raised through DVDs, leaflets and posters.

NAS regional officer Lisa Pitkeathly said: "Carrying an Autism Alert Card will make police officers aware of someone having the condition.

"And the training we are providing to Durham Constabulary should help them to know how to deal with someone who has autism in order to reduce their anxiety and prevent the situation from getting out of control."

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