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Safer Neighborhood for Autistic Child

A new street sign to protect a boy with autism is helping this family ‘feel included’.

Sign saying Autistic Child Area
Courtesy of South Roxana Police Chief Bob Coles

Ali Harris of South Roxana, Illinois, is the mom of 6-year-old Kyren, who has autism and is non-verbal. Kyren is fascinated with cars - which tend to speed on his street - and Ali worries about him running into traffic, particularly as Kyren 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 figured a sign would raise awareness about her son, both for drivers and for families who frequent the park across the street from their home. However, she had no idea how to get a sign put up until the local Police Chief Bob Coles visited the Fire-N-Smoke restaurant where Harris works, and they got chatting.

Within days, a bright yellow “Autistic Child Area” sign stood outside Harris' home. She saw the sign driving back from a road trip to Florida with Kyren and her fiancé, Dillon. "I said, 'Oh my God - it's there!'" she recalled.

Harris acknowledged that the sign may not help all children with autism, whose needs and behaviors differ greatly. Yet she's noticed slower traffic since the sign appeared, and she's grateful for another outcome for her family: "We finally feel included."


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