A CHARITY based in Colchester is changing the lives of people with autism across the world.

Autism Anglia provides education and support to adults and children with autism and their families throughout East Anglia.

Annie Sands, welfare rights manager for the charity, has now created an autism passport.

In the document, the autistic person fills in information about what they might find difficult and how someone can best communicate with them.

Requests for the passport have come from across the country and as far afield as Italy.

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

She said: “I feel 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 passport contained everything it needed to support autistic people, and I am so pleased it is making such a difference to the lives of so many.”

The passport, which is available free of charge from the Autism Anglia website, has been used in many situations including court settings, police stations and job centres.

Kim Mayhead, from Brightlingsea, whose son uses the passport, said: “I used my son’s 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.

“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.”

For more information, visit www.autism-anglia.org.uk.