Pictured above: Mason Milne, volunteer for Autism Anglia with the translated Autism Passports

East Anglia based charity Autism Anglia has translated its Autism Passport to Ukrainian and Russian to support autistic individuals affected by the war.

The Autism Passport was launched in 2019 and was created to help others understand and make suitable adjustments for autistic people.

For many, a diagnosis of autism can create many challenges. Even just an everyday situation can cause an enormous amount of stress for someone with Autism. An autistic person can often face difficulties in communicating how they feel.

The Autism Passport has been extremely well received in the autistic community and has been used in many situations including court settings, police stations, job centres and much more.

Although the passport can be downloaded for free from the charity’s website.  Printed copies are also being sent to volunteers in or near Ukraine to ensure they reach those in need who will not have access to a printer.

The Autism Passport was written by Annie Sands, advocacy manager for Autism Anglia.  Autism Anglia’s North East Essex Advocacy Service (NEEAS) offers independent, impartial and confidential advice and support to families, carers, autistic children, and young people, age 0 -25 years, in Colchester and Tendring. This includes help to navigate both the clinical aspect of their care and non-clinical services such as general or individual advice about their condition and educational, social and financial support.

Annie Sands, advocacy manager at Autism Anglia said:

When the war in Ukraine started, Autism Anglia’s advocates were instantly concerned how frightened disabled children and adults would be.

Our advocates were worried that this group may be forgotten or left to fend for themselves. We read the news stories but heard nothing about disabled people. Being terrified and fleeing your home must be one of the hardest journeys that autistic children, adults and their families can undertake.

Pictured above: Annie Sands, advocacy manager at charity Autism Anglia

As chair of the East of England Stakeholder Group, Annie raised this issue, and it was agreed that one way to help would be to translate the Autism Passport into the Ukrainian language. That way, families entering the UK would have a document explaining their communication difficulties, and how best to help understand their needs and make reasonable adjustments.

Annie continued:

We have made contact with the Ukraine Embassy, Red Cross, European Disability Forum, Refugee Council of Great Britain, DWP, Learning Disability England, Essex Carers Network, Autism Europe and the Government Disability Unit. They have all fully supported the translation and distribution of the Passport.

We would also like to thank Simon Pitham of Autoprint Harwich and Clacton for kindly sponsoring and printing the Autism Passports, and Peter Dutch founder of local community group the Colchester Anti-Loo Roll Brigade who is supporting transport of the Autism Passport hard copies to the Ukraine.

Autism Anglia’s Advocacy Service is funded by NHS North East Essex CCG and forms part of its Early Intervention and Family Offer: supporting young people and families with neurodevelopmental conditions.

Pam Green, chief operating officer, NHS North East Essex Clinical Commissioning Group, said:

We are delighted to support this work as we must ensure every person seeking refuge from the war in Ukraine here in north east Essex has their needs met to the best of our ability. Autism can often be misunderstood and a translated guide to help host families support those staying with them will be invaluable in making them feel more secure when they arrive. Autism Anglia has done a fabulous job in partnering with so many key national and international organisations to make this happen.

Audrey Ludwig, director at the Suffolk Law Centre, one of the sponsors of the Autism Passport, added:

I am so pleased that the Autism Passport has been translated in order to support the autistic Ukrainian community which come to settle in our region. The Passport will go some way to help in the overwhelming situation and is incredibly essential in this very difficult time. 

Dr Anna Kennedy who is widely respected within the autism world and one of Autism Anglia Champions, and a sponsor of the Passport says:

After seeing how important the passport is for autistic children and adults, I am so pleased it has been translated in order to support the autistic Ukraine community. The Passport will go some way to help in the overwhelming situation, and incredibly essential in this very difficult time.

For more information or to download the Autism Passport please visit www.autism-anglia.org.uk/autism-passport