PHOTO: Assemblyman Goldfeder has asked the DOT to consider installing road signs (such as the one pictured) warning drivers of locations that have a high concentration of autistic children. Courtesy of diffdrum.wordpress.com
By Michael V. Cusenza
An elected state official this week called on the City to consider installing road signs warning drivers of locations that have a high concentration of autistic children.
Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder (D-Howard Beach), whose 23rd Assembly District includes the Howard Beach nonprofit New York Families for Autistic Children, has penned a letter to the Department of Transportation, urging the agency to set up “Autistic Child Area” signs around facilities that cater to autistic people, special needs schools, and parks utilized by autistic children. Goldfeder said that the posts will alert drivers, and ensure that they take extra precautions, and cited signs that warn motorists that they are entering an area with deaf children as an example.
The Autistic Child Area signs, Goldfeder added, will communicate that drivers may not be able to rely on traditional means, like honking, to prevent accidents.
“I have made traffic safety around our schools a priority and I know firsthand how scary it can be to have cars speeding around areas where our kids gather,” he said. “New signs making drivers aware of special children will ensure that they take extra precautions when they are near a facility that is used by people with autism, to give parents some peace of mind when they drop off their children with special needs.”
In the letter, Goldfeder requested that DOT investigate potential areas where such signs can prove useful, like Cross Bay Boulevard near the NYFAC Autism Center.
“Kids with autism are unpredictable, they can jet out into the street at any given time. If people knew that an area had autistic kids, they could be more aware. They could look towards the sidewalks, and knowing that just because a kid is walking down the sidewalk doesn’t mean they’re not going to jet out,” said NYFAC President and CEO Andrew Baumann. “I have a facility that deals with children with autism, so safety signs would help a lot. Anything that is going to make the community more aware is beneficial to us.”
DOT officials have indicated to The Forum that they have received Goldfeder’s request for signage, and said they are in the process of reviewing his request.