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"So even if it reaches that stage, police will know who to ring for advice."

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Durham County Council is helping to raise awareness in the community through newsletters, information in libraries and through its children's and adult services.

The clerical officer, who has worked for Durham County Council since 2003 and is part of its children's and young persons' services team, said the card, backed up with the literature and video, is a "positive step".

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"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."

handed out across the region to those with autism and associated Air Max Thea Textile White conditions including Asperger's Syndrome.

As with many of those with autism and Asperger's, which is a form of the condition, he found it difficult to socialise and interact with others.

The 31 year old, from Seaburn, has Asperger's Syndrome and spends much of his spare time Nike Air Max Thea Black Wolf Grey White Womens

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He has stressed many like him do their best to be law abiding residents because often they follow what they are told and learn literally, giving them a clear sense of what is right and wrong.

on them when they are searched.

It will also list how their behaviour might be affected by their condition for example they may have difficulty communicating or might appear to be anxious in an unfamiliar situation.

"What I want most, especially when speaking to police, and I expect, is the right representation and understanding."

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

He added: "It is vital that all members of our communities feel comfortable and confident when they come into contact with the emergency services and the criminal justice system.

working alongside the National Autistic Society and appearing as a guest speaker to give professionals an insight into how he and others like him see life.

Lisa Pitkeathly, NAS regional officer, said: "Autism is a lifelong and disabling condition which affects about one in a hundred people in the UK.

For Chris Mitchell, the Autism Alert Card is a step in the right direction.

"And if the incident leads to the person being taken into custody the card will be found Air Max Tavas Blue And White

"The NAS is regularly made aware of people with autism who have ended up in the criminal justice system when some knowledge amongst professionals could easily have avoided this.

"Our officers need to be particularly aware of the challenges facing people with autism.

But he is hopeful it will help those who find themselves part of police inquiries or involved in incidents explain their condition.

Autism awareness is now being raised across the force through a variety of media including a DVD produced by the society, screensavers and posters.

´╗┐Autism alert card scheme launched

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Deputy Chief Constable Gary Barnett said the card could potentially ease many situations and clear up problems before they arise.

He has also found time to write two books about his condition, which was diagnosed 11 years ago while studying for a media studies degree.

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He added: "I hope I won't have to use it because I've only ever had a speeding fine, but if they use this, it can explain to police they have Asperger's Syndrome or autism in whatever circumstances, whether that's in an interview or as a witness.

He said: "I was experiencing very high levels of social isolation because I had difficulties with social skills and couldn't relate to a lot of people I was with at uni, and I became very depressed.

Mr Barnett added: "Having someone else to contact can make the incident far less stressful for the person concerned and also for the officer.

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While he believes more can be done to help others understand the behaviour and characteristics of the conditions, he agrees the new Autism Alert Card will help others.

The Autism Alert Card, which is the size of a bank card, will carry personal details, along with the NAS helpline number.

Information leaflets are also being distributed to operational officers across the force area.

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"How I became to be diagnosed is a long story, but I was referred to several psychiatrists until we felt they got it right."

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Durham Constabulary has teamed up with the National Autistic Society (NAS) to launch a new scheme which will issue those with autism and related conditions with an information card.

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