An Autism Neighborhood Sign
A really cool discovery
While traveling this summer with my son, we were driving through a small Pennsylvania town and came across something I thought was cool.
It was a yellow (caution) sign that read:
“Autistic Child Area”
Signage in a neighborhood
The street sign was similar to a “Blind Child Area” sign.
After spotting it, I immediately stopped and backed up to get a closer look.
Furthermore, my ever-observant son, who hadn’t seen the sign, questioned why we were driving in reverse.
Not only did I feel I had discovered a treasure, but the subsequent conversation with my son turned out to be a highlight of my vacation (and will be forever remembered).
After I positioned my car in front of the sign, I took a photo of the sign.
Then, a really cool conversation happened with my son. The beginning went like this:
“Mommy, what are you doing?”
“I’m taking a photo of this sign so I can send it to friends of mine.”
“Because I think it’s a great sign.”
A sign like this was impressive.
For instance, this was a small Pennsylvania town. A neighborhood somehow got this sign put up.
The sign meant that in this neighborhood there is a child with a unique disability and that drivers should be extra cautious.
It was a warning sign for drivers to look carefully for a possible autistic child in this area.
Why it was put up?
Of course, I did not know the exact reason why the sign was put up.
In other words, my best guess was that an autistic child lived on the street and that child potentially had issues relating to being a wanderer.
The parents of that child must have petitioned for the sign and eventually got it put up. I’m guessing that they proactively wanted their neighbors and drivers to be aware that an autistic child may have issues outside of the home.
Not a bad reason at all.
Talking with my son
In addition, there was more to my conversation with my son:
My son said, “Is that sign about kids like me?”
I loved the question because my husband and I had been discussing our son’s knowledge about his own autism and whether or not we should openly discuss it with him.
For example, we were curious as to whether he really knew he had autism and what that meant to him. We were never shy when it came to autism-related discussions around him.
Plus, my son goes to Autism Speaks meetings with me and he attends his own IEPs.
“Do I have autism?”
We had yet to have that conversation with our seven-year-old. Was this going to be the moment?
Our conversation continued:
“Yes, it is probably a sign that tells drivers that a child with autism lives on this street.”
“Why do they have a sign?”
“Well, maybe the child is a wanderer,” I said. “Or, he or she darts out of the house. I think someone got the sign put up to help with their child’s safety.”
This was a great conversation for a kid who had yet to acknowledge his own autism. It made me feel like he knew, yet maybe he just wasn’t sure how to converse about it yet.
Had we ever considered petitioning for such a sign?
My son had never been much of a wanderer. Plus, our house sits back from the street, so my is no.
Honestly, I had never even considered such a sign because I didn’t realize you could get one.
What pleased me most was that someone was that proactive in a small town.
Apparently, there is some sort of safely concern regarding an autistic child and, to me, that means that someone is looking out for their kid.
Would I recommend it?
Not a bad idea if you feel you need help with your child’s safety. I think you’d have to consider the make-up of your neighborhood and your relationship with your neighbors and your community.
You’d probably also need to factor in if your neighborhood is a main street or a street that’s more out of the way.
If your house is so off the “beaten path” perhaps you don’t need to have such a sign?
The discovery of this sign led to a great conversation with my son. One I will cherish.
Additionally, I felt great for those people who got the sign put up.
Autism these days is about awareness. That was a great way to promote awareness and safety.
Here’s an interesting article related to this topic:
More from Kimberly Kaplan:
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