MedicAlert® Canada (officially “MedicAlert® Foundation Canada“) includes “Autism Spectrum Disorder” (as well as “Autism”, “High-Functioning Autism”, and “Kanner’s Autism”) in the list of conditions that they can include on one’s record. I just joined yesterday, because my mother has been worried that if I ever end up in an accident, or some other situation where I could panic and lose my speech, or end up unconscious, emergency responders might not realize that I’m autistic, and that could be part of the problem. (There’s also the concern about cops, and if I ever get taken in for some reason or another – there have been incidents in Newfoundland with the cops misunderstanding autistic behaviours as drunk or drugged….)
Most people (in Canada and the US, at least!), I know, have at least heard of MedicAlert, and know the symbol and what it means (aka that the person wearing it has certain conditions, and to know what they are, flip the ID symbol). But I’m not sure that people necessarily understand the details of how it works.
The site goes into details about everything, so I thought that I might explain it here, so that my fellow Canadian autistics (and parents of autistics) can decide if it might be a benefit to register.
First of all, you need to be a MedicAlert member to wear the bracelet/symbol, because the bracelet/symbol is only the first step in what MedicAlert provides. Membership is $5/month, and you can either pay monthly, or for 15, 24, or 36 months (the membership fee for the 24 and 36 months has a discount). There’s also a registration fee of $24, which basically pays to set up your medical record. And there’s also payment for the bracelet/symbol, which can be $39 for the basic options, and going up (there are even ones in sterling silver and in gold!).
However, MedicAlert is a charity, and they firmly believe that everyone who needs a bracelet should have one. There are options for if you can’t afford membership, and options for children and students which include discounts. They even have a program called No Child Without, which works with schools to provide students from 4-14 with free memberships and bracelets. They also have a program called Safely Home, originally developed by the Alzheimer’s Society of Canada, and now administered through MedicAlert, for people with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia.
Secondly, one of the reasons for the registration and membership fees (aside from their charitable programs) is that only very few words can be engraved on the back of the symbol; you certainly can’t include such things as medications, and I believe the limit is 4-5 conditions, and details of allergic reactions, etc. So the MedicAlert Foundation maintains a medical record for each member, which includes details of the various conditions. (There’s a section where you can include 512 characters of details for each condition and allergy, and need…. So for me, under ASD, I mentioned my hypersensitivities, and that I’m verbal except when panicking or having a meltdown, and that my meltdowns are crying jags, which are the important elements.) First responders are taught (through a program that MedicAlert runs) to “Look, Read, Call” – which means: 1) look for the MedicAlert symbol; 2) read what it says; 3) call the hotline number (which is also engraved on the symbol) with the person’s membership number (again, engraved on the symbol) to get the details. (See image below for example of engraving details.)
They even have a referral program, which can get you a $10 discount if you use the referral code of the member who recommended it to you – details are on the Speak 4 Me page, or call at 1.866.696.0267. Here’s mine: TG16-503E (just in case you want to use it 😉 ).
Anyway, thought it might be worth it to get this info out here, particularly for any of my fellow Canadians who weren’t aware of the inclusion of autism in the MedicAlert database.