- An autistic boy’s fascination for fast cars and neighbor’s questions prompts a mother’s desire to have a safety street sign in front of their house.
- Drivers have been speeding up on their street and Alli Harris is worried about what might happen to her son who is non-verbal.
- She got to talk with their local police chief who quickly installed a bright yellow “Autistic Child Area” outside their home.
Alli Harris has a non-verbal, autistic 6-year-old son, Kyren. Kyren’s fascination is cars. And the fast drivers who happen to speed up on their street are his mom’s source of worry.
And even though they have a deadbolt on their door, Harris could not help but be scared of what might happen. “Kyren also loves to pick up rocks and dirt on the side of the road — dropping them on the ground like a sand timer calms him — and he won’t understand if a car honks,” Harris said.
She has been trying to think of ways to alert drivers to her son’s condition and presence. A street sign would come in very handy but she doesn’t know how to go about it. That is where South Roxana Police Chief Bob Coles came into the picture.
Chief Coles visited Harris at the Fire-N-Smoke restaurant where she works and Harris brought up the idea of having a street sign for safety. And the father of three and big fan of kindness responded with, “I’ll get it taken care of.”
Coles also saw the benefit of having the sign based on one of their cases. “We had one domestic violence case involving a non-verbal child, and a sign would have helped (explain their behavior),” he said.
And voila, a few days after, a sign in bright yellow “Autistic Child Area” was installed right outside Harris’ home.
Similar street signs in New York and Ohio have also been put up in 2020 and 2021 to protect children with autism.
Margaret Nygren, the executive director and CEO of the American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities said that the signs are discouraged in some due to privacy laws and notes that smaller communities may comply higher than big ones.
But for a grateful Harris, the sign has certainly slowed down the traffic on their street and made them finally feel included.