Image of Blue Badge for drivers. Image: Open Government Licence v3.0

Blue Badge scheme extended to include autism and mental health conditions

People with hidden disabilities will soon have access to Blue Badges, removing the barriers many face to travel.

The scheme already means those with physical disabilities can park closer to their destination than other drivers.

Autism Bedfordshire corporate & community fundraiser officer, Sarah Grimes, said:

“This is fantastic news, this announcement will make a massive difference to the lives of many autistic people in Bedfordshire, and their families.”

Consistent guidelines on Blue Badge eligibility

The new criteria will extend eligibility to people who:

  • Cannot undertake a journey without there being a risk of serious harm to their health or safety. Or that of any other person (such as young children with autism)
  • Cannot undertake a journey without it causing them very considerable psychological distress
  • Have very considerable difficulty when walking (both the physical act and experience of walking)

National Autistic Society Director of External Affairs, Jane Harris, said:

“Just leaving the house is a challenge for many autistic people, involving detailed preparation – and sometimes overwhelming anxiety about plans going wrong.

“And some autistic people might not be aware of the dangers of the road or become overwhelmed by busy or loud environments.

“The possibility of not being able to find a parking space near where you’re going can mean you can’t contemplate leaving the house at all.”

Although people with non-physical disabilities are not excluded from receiving a Blue Badge, the current rules are open to interpretation.

The new criteria will give consistent guidelines on Blue Badge eligibility for the whole of England.

Autism Bedfordshire Summer Activity Programme

Autism Bedfordshire is an independent charity providing emotional & practical support for individuals with Autistic Spectrum Conditions (ASC) and their families.

It is estimated that over 6,000 people in Bedfordshire are on the autistic spectrum. Autism Bedfordshire is the only voluntary organisation that is specialised in supporting people with ASC.

In July and August it is providing 10 separate week-long specialist activity schemes (9:30am-3pm daily) for children aged 3 to 17 years with Autistic Spectrum Conditions.

If you are interested in its services please go to www.autismbedfordshire.net or call 01234 214871.