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The Autism Area Street Sign

A post ran in the Autism Examiner run by Robin Hauser Morris last August. Ms. Morris asked, "Do you think the 'Autism Area' street sign is a good idea or not?" It's a simple question and a valid one. We think the sign is a very good idea for those families who want it. And that given the autism rates, families facing murder and suicide, young adults aging out to no services, adults struggling to find and keep gainful employment, America's neighborhoods should look something like this:

Epidemic Autism signs fire
Click the photo to enlarge and tell us in the comments if you can read Adriana's message in the flames.

Read the full post at the Examiner

Should autistic child in neighborhood street signs be posted?

Responses to Neighbors' cruel discrimination against autistic child are unanimous. Outrage and anger are familiar terms.

However, one parent (Pat B.) of an autistic child suggested that constructing a sign, warning autism in the area is another type of cruelty: " I'm really concerned that the sign the Trussele' will have in their neighborhood will only fuel the harassment for the little fellow... maybe they should reconsider the sign the awful label is cruel enough. It's kind of like having a Beware of Pitbull sign in your from yard... maybe the pit bull is a great family animal with no problems or history of violence, but the neighbors will only capitalize on the inferences and keep the fire burning."

It is a fair question. Should Autism Warning signs be posted in neighborhoods, or should the sign simply read Caution Children? Assigning labels to children is the toughest part of accepting autism. Once a diagnosis is procured, the paper trail ensues and parents do not want that label to preclude progress  "After all, the child is autistic, they will not be able to succeed". A self fulfilling prophecy is an albatross.

The counterpoint to that argument, that in the right hands and creative services, autistic children can learn. (This is not about cure. It is about teaching and learning new information.) Assigning a label should protect children with autism.

There is also the consideration regarding self injurious and impulsive behaviors associated with autism. A warning sign in a neighborhood might just save a child's life. Considering the analogy of addressing the safety or hearing impaired children (Deaf Child in Area), drivers proceed with caution. Likewise, Autistic Child in Area signs when utilized appropriately, should protect, not harass.

What do you think?


Samantha Walter

I live on a country back road that is somewhat heavily populated for the area. Many of the cars travel at excessive speed and there are alot of trees that narrow visibility. I keep my frontage maintained for this reason but many in the area do not which is part of the charm of living in the country. I have two autistic children whom I have been able to teach them that the road is unsafe to go near. Autistic child have depth and spaceial awaresness difficulties. Other autistic child wander and tend to go into their own little world blocking out awareness of their surroundings. Addition I have two close neighbors with autistic children and two adult neighbors with impairments. I have seen a sign that simply reads impaired child area. I don't know if these signs do a single thing to incourage drivers to be more responsible or not. My county road commision no longer installs these signs but does issue permits to families wanting to put them into place themselves. They say that the research says that these signs are not effective and can actually promote a sense of false security among the residents that drives will actually take caution. I would paint my house with colorfull puzzle pieces and place signs every ten feet to spread awareness and instill caution but sadly those not affected by the worries of caring for autistic children simply do not care.

emily's mom

To Allie's mom,
I have pretty much the same situation where I live..in my subdivision I have observed since I am a stay-at-home-mom-not-by-choice that it is the parents not the kids who have an issue with my daughter who is 12. My daughter is very friendly and wants to engage but doesn't have the social cues and I try to prompt appropriate language and watch her as much as I can. Since she does have echolalia she can say some weird, out-of-context stuff. That's when the dad who lives 2 doors down came up to me at the pool and told me to keep her away from his kid (his kid was 3) because why? because he couldn't deal with it..not his 3 year old. The pool in my subdivision is a "common area" and the ADA protects our kids..complaints under the Federal Fair Housing Act may be reported to and investigated by the Department of Housing and Urban Development. See U.S. HUD: Fair Housing www.hud.gov and for Americans with Disability Act Info see www.usdoj.gov/crt/ada
Don't forget the ADA protects our kids from getting thrown off airplanes if they're having a meltdown...unless it is a security or safety issue they cannot ask you to leave the plane..i.e. seat belt fastened...if they say the crying is disruptive well so is a crying baby..if it is not a safety and security issue they cannot ask you to deplane under the ADA...I used to work at the airports for the airlines..they don't like to be fined $10,000 for a complaint against the ADA.

Allie's mom

To Emily's mom...This is exactly what I go through with my 13 year old daughter in our neighborhood. Even though most of our neighbors are very sensitive, supportive, & helpful with our daughter, we have 2 that are not. They are family, the mom & dad live 3 house to our left & their daughter lives two houses to our right. They have used my daughter's autism against her & our whole family....they single us out by putting NO Trespassing signs along their property where it borders ours, the daughter is trying to get a petition signed by neighbors that our daughter cant come outside without my husband or myself (my daughter is capable of going outside) they spread rumors about us, more specifically our daughter, lies...I was just looking for more information about our rights, how close are they to slander, or harrassment??? You mentioned ADA provides some protection....where can I go to get more information on this????


This is a TERRIBLE sign! Most people have no idea what Autism is and if they do have an idea they are thinking that Rain Man lives on their corner. I saw this sign two years ago on another website. It just made no sense. Why dont they just have a sign that says "Cancer Area" or "Down Syndrome Area." I think about 90% of all Americans don't even know that Autism has a spectrum of disorders and not one child with Autism is the same as the other. Its just a freakin shame. If they are to make this work, they should have a website posted below the "Autism Area" of the sign so that the public can go to the site for more information. This is just my idea.

Tracy McDermott

My last house had FIVE children with ASD on a street of about 20 homes!! Everyone was well versed on the topic. When we moved a half mile away (2 story to 1 story house!), we informed each of our new neighbors that our son had Autism and was nonverbal, and should they EVER see him outside unattended, they should approach him immediately. Just a few months ago he got out and a Mom driving home from work saw him in the yard and stopped and walked him to the front door (our German Shepherd had also followed him outside and was thankfully walking circles around him) He had been out for about 2 minutes, and was luckily in his underwear (he's 8!), so flagged himself fairly quickly!
I think the signs have their pros and cons, but educating your neighbors and bringing awareness is key.


To kooltoys1 - My child HAS autism. He GOT it from vaccines. : )

As for the sign, I can see both arguments for and against. It is a personal family decision in the end. One to be respected. It would change the entire landscape of communities however, if we all placed one!

Elaine Hickey

My daughter is now 17. When we lived in our old house (prior to 2008), we had a sign . . . it said "deaf child" because "autism area" or other options were not available. To me, it was about possibly saving her life. She had a history of elopement and we lived on a curve. She is "low-functioning" and "non-verbal". If she had safety awareness, etc, I would not have found it necessary to "protect" her in this manner.


Kooltoys-- you're genuinely entitled to believe that autism is what your child "has". But it's what my children "got" from excessive vaccines, Tylenol and pollution. I've seen recovered children. Maybe not "cured"-- they may never be exactly who they were born to be, but they no longer "have" autism or anything close to it and they were once "really really" autistic.


We recently moved and thought about the sign and ultimately settled on rallying the neighbors to spread to word. Our youngest neighbor is 30 years older than my husband and I, we went to the neighbors that we felt were approachable that didn't approach us and they all have emergency contact info and I've trained the police and fire departments. We feel like this will influence more people.


LOVE the "This is not about cure. It is about teaching and learning new information." I often tell ppl that autism is like diabets...you learn to control it but it is NOT cured. Since I live on a dead end street I would not want them sign...BUT I do wonder if it would give preditors an indication of where to go. Ppl need more education. It is not something you GET...it is something our children HAVE. The world needs to become a more inclusive environment!

Janice Nicholson

We have the sign and have not seen any bullying, negativity or predator like behaviour. In fact, we have seen a rally of support for our children (Two sons that are non-verbal) in the two years since we have moved in. I am confident, now that if anyone saw our boys wandering, they would gather them up and deliver them to our door.
We have had the neighbours helping with our fence that was the result of a fundraiser to keep our boys safe and happy in the back yard. The support we get from our neighbours is incredible and because of the relationship we have built, our neighbours are on guard for us too.
Perhaps if they weren't so vulnerable in their severity, we may have had different thoughts regarding the sign but the whole point in having the sign is safety for vulnerable children.


"Caution Children" wouldn't cut it on my street. When my 19 year old walks into the street without looking very few, who don't know him, are going to react like he's a child that just doesn't know any better. (Which is why we watch him like hawks when he's anywhere near the street.)

I wouldn't oppose a sign, but I don't think it'll help much unless it said "Autism EPIDEMIC has hit this street" :)


everything about this says "watch out" not to go all conspiracy theory on everybody, but who's to say if the signs are mandated someday that it might not lead to our children being rounded up and euthanize d? I mean they have means to know exactly where they are? I think it's discrimination and the stigma of it will further seclude these children from their non-autistic peers, putting them into a further minority than they already are.


Flaming fireworks and confetti for Tanner's Dad! :} But aren't the signs pretty and progressive as the world burns in the background?

Kristin B

I wonder if they put a sign up in every neighborhood that had a child with autism----would there be any neighborhoods that didn't have a sign?


I had inquired about such a sign for my neighborhood. I ultimately decided not to for safety reasons. I didn't want to announce that there is a vulnerable child in the neighborhood.

A child who is deaf can, and likely will, run from a potential captor. Mine can not.

A child who is deaf can likely be taught not to approach a strange car or to walk away with someone for candy - while we try, I believe mine can not.

A child who is deaf might be able to scream if someone grabs them. Mine will not.

For me, an autism sign is an invitation to prey on my child.

TannersDad Tim Wels

E P I D E M I C !!! TannersDad Tim

emily's mom

While in the neighborhood with my child who is 12 I spend most of my time watching that no one is mean to her or bullys her..and its usually the adults. They have come up to me and said "keep your daughter away from mine"....Please remember the ADA American with Disabilities Act does provide some protection in our neighborhoods but we as parents are their protectors. I say "Deaf Child" is fine so drivers are observant but "autistic child" is like putting a bullseye on their back.

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