Safety ID

Individuals with autism who need some assistance in an emergency situation will usually have someone close by to help in the event of an unexpected disaster such as a fire, storm, car wreck, or earthquake. But the possibility of separation always exists, so we should consider the options for a safety ID in the event of an emergency.

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Picture ID cards are essential. In addition to a photo of the individual and their name, you might consider including some of the following information.

1. CONTACT. Include the name of contact person, relationship, phone numberd. and e.mail address. You might even have a small photo of that contact person. Even if your youngster knows his contact information, you might consider including names and phone numbers since anyone can get flustered in an emergency and forget important facts.

2. AUTISM: You might want to include a brief explanation of your youngster’s situation on the back of the card. For example, the statement could say something like this: “Because Diane is autistic, she is not able to answer questions and she gets very agitated in unfamiliar situations. If she screams and hits, just calmly and quietly tell her that you know she is upset and call us so she can hear a familiar voice.”

Although photo ID cards are important, they are not always accessible if the person is not close to their backpack or wallet. So we need to find a way to keep identifying information on the person. Some folks with autism can tolerate an ID bracelet or “dog-tag” type necklace, especially if they start wearing it at an early age.

I don’t know about methods for applying permanent identifying information such as microchips or tattoos, but I do know that some individuals with autism are escape artists and others have sensory issues that prevent their wearing jewelry ID. If a person tends to run or to hide away from other people – especially when faced with an emergency situation or unexpected separation from their friends or family – caregivers may want to explore some sort of permanent ID.

I hope folks will share their ideas for ID’s. Just click on the comments button or send us a message to

NOTE TO READERS AND LISTENERS: I am Cathy Knoll, a board certified music therapist and long-time friend of many folks with autism. At we are committed to providing free, practical, everyday tips for making life better for people with autism. Feel free to send me an email with your thoughts or challenging situations or innovative solution. Send email to And don’t forget to check out our website for a wealth of ideas and a glimpse into the world of autism.

Published on: Apr 7, 2008

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