Autism Anglia is a Colchester based charity that provides education and support to adults and children with autism and their families throughout East Anglia.

Some of the staff and volunteers throughout the charity either have autism themselves or have children with autism.

Because they have lived through the journey themselves, they are passionate about the services provided by the charity. It’s through this knowledge of this ‘journey’ that the Autism Passport was born.

For many, a diagnosis can create many challenges and what many would see as an everyday situation can cause an enormous amount of stress for someone with autism. An autistic person can sometimes face difficulties in communicating how they feel.

Annie Sands, Welfare Rights Manager for Autism Anglia created the Autism Passport. It is a document that an autistic person fills in and carries with them.  It states information about what that person might find difficult and how someone can best communicate with them and ensure the environment can be made more comfortable or less stressful.

Seb Sands, son of Annie Sands with the Autism Passport

Annie has children on the autism spectrum and is passionate about campaigning for change on behalf of Autism Anglia to ensure Autistic people are represented, understood and treated fairly.

Annie understands the barriers that autistic people can face on a daily basis and works to help bring down those barriers. Frequently meeting with Government Ministers, Councillors and MPs to drive change.

Annie said:

I feel very privileged to be able to represent the autistic community and ensure their voices are heard. It is through years of experience of autism on a personal level as well as through my work for the charity that I had the idea for the Autism Passport. I spoke to many people in the autistic community to ensure the Autism Passport contained everything it needed to support autistic people, and I am so pleased that it is making such a difference to the lives of so many.

The passport, that is available free of charge from the Autism Anglia website (link at bottom of this article) 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.

Kim Mayhead from Brightlingsea, whose son uses the Autism Passport said:

I used my sons’ passport with him when our GP didn’t give him the healthcare he needed. This has much improved our relationship with our doctor and with the health care centre staff and it has resulted in him getting the medicine he needed. People don’t appreciate how difficult the seemingly most mundane daily tasks can be if you’re unable to communicate effectively. Getting better access to health care and support for legal challenges is much needed in the Autistic community and this passport is literally a lifeline for many. During this pandemic the passport has become even more valuable as it can be used to explain extra walks outside of the home as it’s recognised by the police.

Kim added:

I’ve not only used it for my own family but also have sent it to families that I support too. One lady used it to help her at hospital appointments as she felt she was not being understood. She said the staffs whole attitude changed towards her when she mentioned the passport, she didn’t even need to show it.

The Autism Passport was launched by Autism Anglia in October 2019 and the demand for it since its launch has been huge.

It is now being used to support many people in the judicial system and many other charities and organisations all over the world.  Just last week they received a request from an organisation in Italy!

Annie is now working on producing a Carers Passport, too.

For more information or to obtain the Autism Passport please click here.