Managing Anxiety – the “Autism Alert Card”

autism-wilts-walletHaving attended Axia’s June “Post-Diagnostic Support Group” meeting in Crewe, as noted in the “Minutes”, we witnessed a very interesting, engaging and entertaining discourse from Elspeth Bromiley on “Managing Anxiety” (which was actually far more in-depth than mere “management”, focusing also on “recognition” of it (obviously needed prior to it’s management!).

Out of the many issues, topics and solutions discussed arose mention of the “Autism Alert Card” (an example of which can be seen above). Another attendee produced theirs citing a benefit they’d received from being able to “produce” it under certain circumstances. I felt compelled to remove my own from my pocket, and express my own experience with it’s occasional, but most empowering “production”. autismni-cardAnother attendee from Autism Inclusive raised a good point about “not remembering to carry one” and so had a version attached to their keys (as they were always carried with them). I found these too existed whilst “Googling”!

I know all of us who are “on the Spectrum” are different, however I feel it fairly safe to say that most of us may struggle (on some level) with other people in stressful situations (at times). This obviously raises anxiety. One of the ways it was suggested we may “manage” this is by “preparation”, and when actually suffering stress in difficult situations, attempting to prevent it’s spiral by “taking a breath”, “stepping back” or “pressing pause” (so to speak) IF POSSIBLE.

Part of my personal “Condition/Disability” was described by my Father as my being “Contrariwise” which medically one would perhaps call “Oppositional Defiance Disorder”… I have problems with anyone “claiming authority”, and believe me, that has created problems for ME! But to be able to carry a card which provides “due warning” to others that, in essence says, “I may not behave as is expected by your social norms.” can actually reduce anxiety per se. The first time I “produced” my “Autism Alert Card” was the last incident when my path crossed with a policeman. I have to say, in all my years of dealing with those gentleman whilst “performing their duties”, I have never in the past been treated with as much respect, and a genuine attempt to “meet me on level ground”. No doubt my words played a role in the encounter, and maybe the card created a “confidence” within me, it is hard to say. However, due to that experience alone I feel less anxious in the knowledge that “producing” a simple card and “shutting my mouth” can alter the direction of events significantly. In this particular instance I was also afforded an opportunity to enquire and educate the gentleman.

The more I considered Elspeth’s talk, the more I desired to expand upon this aspect a little and perhaps post it for the benefit of others. Following my diagnosis I joined the National Autistic Society and received a “flip-style wallet”, white on blue (the standard “code” for “information” – like motorway signs for example), which I can open one handed, very much like a “warrant card”. I believe these can be purchased from NAS (here) without having to join. It also contains a folded leaflet which the copper didn’t actually read in my situation, and NAS provide the text of it here.

Autism-Alert-Card-NASI personally am NOT endorsing the purchase of one of these cards from the National Autistic Society (or anyone else for that matter!), in fact a quick Google search will provide dozens of other “Authorities” with their own versions, from Councils to Constabularies to private companies seeking to profit. For example…

The Cumbria Constabulary appear to have their own “Autism Awareness Card” as can be seen here Autism-Alert-Card-Cumbria-police (the link to their website is here).

There was a nice colourful one from Oxfordshire bloxham-Autism-card-2to the left, which when clicked will show the details on the reverse quite clearly.

And even a free “Dummies Guide” to making one for your Self!

Asperclick-cardThere are a few others I could mention such as the one designed by “Willow Hope”, an autistic female who runs a forum called Asperclick and funds it through “autistic orientated” products such as this (which can be found here)

Again, this is only my personal perspective, but part of the “power” of these cards is the “supposed authority” they have. Technically you could scrawl the relevant details down on the back of an envelope, cite the 2009 Autism Act, and theoretically one should be treated the same as if one had “purchased” (or freely received) a “professional card”. I would say that those “on the spectrum” have a higher tendency to creativity and so would  advocate research of the wording required, then “make your own”, something both aesthetically pleasing and informative, but most importantly bespoke to YOUR needs. In this way one may tailor the card to themselves specifically (which in my mind again, increases confidence and reduces anxiety).

phone-appCalvin also mentioned “digital apps.” which served a similar purpose, one of which he’d reviewed for a previous meeting. I am not au fait with such technologies, and by nature am somewhat suspicious of them, but no doubt for some they serve a purpose (perhaps like this one, the mpro5). But for me, you can’t beat a “warrant card”!!!  

I hope that sharing this aspect of Elspeth’s discussion and my interpretation of the events which transpired are relatively accurate, and hopefully this article purveying my perspective may prove beneficial to someone who may read this at some juncture.

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4 comments on “Managing Anxiety – the “Autism Alert Card”
  1. Linda Buchan says:

    Thank you for this

  2. Dream says:

    My pleasure, and thanks to Axia and Elspeth too.

  3. Carly Bailey says:

    I am sorry I missed what sounds like a fantastic group session yesterday. Thank you for sharing this Dream.

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