Wallet Card project helps autistic people communicate with police
ALBION, Mich. —
A conversation between neighbors leads to a new initiative called The Wallet Card project to help foster understanding between police and people with disabilities.
The Wallet Card is a small card that individuals with autism can carry to help avoid any misunderstanding should they have contact with police.
Amir Williams, 16, has autism.
Keena Williams, Amir's mother, said, “He is very low verbal skills and so his ability to tell you what's wrong in any given situation is kind of low. And so I know that if he were out and something were to happen he would look very agitated, it would seem very strange to some people who have never encountered someone with autism and almost frightening at times.”
Keena was concerned that if Amir was alone and something triggered him that no one would know how to respond.
She brought her concern to her neighbor, who just happens to be the chief of Albion Public Safety.
Albion Department of Public Safety Chief Scott Kipp said, “We may get a call of a suspicious person or somebody acting just not normal and when they approach that person, they may react in a way that the officer is not prepared for. So, it's important, one - that the officer has training and understands what to look for, but also important for that person to be able to communicate with the officers and be able to get some information so that the officers can do something to help them.”
The Wallet Card can be used as that information. It is a free resource for teenagers and adults with autism. Anyone can apply for a card online.
The card helps a person communicate with officers and includes their name, disability, emergency contact information and any specific triggers.
Keena said, “I just wanted to make sure that there was a way that folks knew who he was, at the very least, but also had an understanding of some of the challenges that people with autism face in terms of communicating with others.”