Hi, my name is Matt and I am an autistic man diagnosed later in life, and if you haven’t heard of it before, I’d like to introduce you to the Pegasus Card.

As an autistic adult it is possible that you may have had interactions with the police in the past, and there may be an increased chance of you interacting with them in the future because of your autism. There are a number of reasons why this might be, e.g. being the victim of hate crime, being the target of fraudsters and scammers, having meltdowns / shutdowns in public places, ‘cukooing’ of homes, a mental health section:- the list goes on, but the unfortunate truth is that some autistic traits may make you more likely to have an interaction with the police than a neurotypical person. I’m not saying that anything has or will happen, only that it may be necessary to interact with the police at some point.

As an autistic person not only are you more likely to have an encounter with the police, but you are likely to be less able to deal with them when it happens because of your autism. This is because the times you have those interactions are likely to be very autistic unfriendly! The difficulties will depend on the individual, but examples might be because of sensory overload (flashing lights, shouting, sirens etc), increased stress and anxiety on top of already high levels, processing issues, communication issues (verbal and non-verbal), again the list goes on. If you recognise any of these situations, or can think of any that might apply to you, then you may want to consider applying for a Pegasus Card.

You can apply for one here: https://www.surrey.police.uk/contact/af/contact-us/us/contact-us/sspegasus-scheme/pegasus-card-scheme/ relatively easily, and there is lots of information there from the Police perspective. From your perspective, why would you want to give your details to the police?

There are a number of benefits, most importantly that it is an excellent way to inform the police of all those things they will need to know at the time of an incident before anything happens – just show the card or quote your PIN. You are far more likely to report a crime if you can minimise the extra stress. Under extreme stress, I have a tendency to be non-verbal, but being non-verbal can appear non-cooperative or suspicious to the police if they don’t know. Similarly police are likely to be suspicious of someone who does not make eye contact if they don’t know, resists or recoils from contact if they don’t know, ask you open questions if they don’t know…. I could go on but you get the idea – whatever your autistic traits are, and whatever your past experiences with the police are, the more they know about you, a stranger, and how you appear in a high stress, emotional or confrontational events that they may know nothing about before they arrive, the better for everyone involved, but most importantly better for you!

Contributed by Matt

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