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Editorial: Autism advisory signs are well-advised

Glad to hear that the state Department of Transportation is open to making changes when it comes to allowing signs advising motorists that children with autism live in certain areas.

Parents like Maria Tennant of Lancaster are concerned that her 2-year-old son and others who are “fearless” will run into the street unaware of the dangers.
Tennant wanted advisory signs installed. She was refused by her village government. The bland and appalling reason seems like more government red tape: the federal and state laws provide for signs alerting drivers to children who are blind and hearing impaired. Neither statute includes “autism” signs.

Kudos to Assemblywoman Monica Wallace for being determined to work for change. She and her staff discovered that the list of approved signs can be modified, citing the state supplement that accompanies the federal Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices. She then contacted Marie Dominguez, commissioner of the state DOT.

More kudos to towns and villages posting such signs despite the law. The Town of Amherst installed a “Child with Autism” sign near the corner of Bailey Avenue and Cambridge Boulevard. Supervisor Brian Kulpa has it exactly right: “Sometimes as a community you need to use prevailing judgment and wisdom.”

A spokeswoman for the state DOT said the department must adhere to the federal Manual on Uniform Control Devices and the New York State Supplement when authorizing highway signs but offered that the department is open to making changes.

When it comes to the safety of children there should be no hesitation. Post the advisory signs. Make it mandatory.

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