HOW IT WORKS
When an autistic young person enters a place of public service such as a store or bank or library the accompanying adult would show the card to the Customer Services. The Stress Alert Card has one red side and one amber side. The side shown should correspond with how the autistic young person is feeling at that particular time. For instance on behalf of the young autistic person the RED side says I am really stressed and for mine and everyone around me’s safety, please help me to spend as little time as possible in your environment.
On the other hand, showing the AMBER side of the card says; please be aware of my presence. I feel calm at the moment but things might change very quickly with me and I might need your help to get out of here quicker.The awareness booklet given to the retail managers explains all this so you do not need to explain anything to them. If you show them the card they will know what you need. However, because autism is a spectrum, they might ask you how you need them to help just to ensure that they give you the help tailor made for you.
The scheme raises awareness of sensory issues in autism one on one with retailers and service providers. Retailers receive a booklet to help managers to train their staff about sensory issues in autism and how they could help build an autism friendly community. This booklet also explain how the lighting, crowds, noise etc. in the stores, banks and such other places cause anxiety, confusion and or pain to autistic individuals. To deal with these sensory information, the autistic individuals are highly likely to display behaviours of concern, commonly known as challenging behaviour. This sort of behaviour usually causes the public to stare and pass upsetting and judgemental comments towards the parents or carer. Due to this situation, our recent survey showed that parents and carers are very reluctant to take their children out into the community with them to access day to day services.
Stress Alert Card
BENEFITS OF THE CARD
The Stress Alert Card helps families of autistic young individuals to get a priority checkout service when they visit stores and banks, libraries and other such places. Other forms of help would also be available as required by different families in different situations across East Sussex. This includes, having a member of staff push your trolley for you while you and the young autistic person pick up the items of your shopping. If the autistic young person is stressed and the parent or carer is struggling to manage his or her behaviour, a member of staff could do your shopping for you if you have a shopping list. This would give the responsible adult enough time and space to attend to the autistic young person. This intervention would ensure that the autistic individual spends the minimum time possible in the anxiety provoking environment. This whole process will help to educate the public about sensory difficulties in autism and hopefully encourage families to integrate more in their communities by reducing the anxieties associated with taking autistic young individuals out. Above all this intervention aims at creating autism friendly and inclusive communities with a better tolerance of autistic individuals displaying behaviours of concern in public