SOUTH ROXANA, Ill. (KMOV) – A small act of kindness is making a big difference for a Metro East family.
People in South Roxana, Illinois may see a new sign the next time they go to one of the parks. Ali Harris’ 6-year-old son Kyren has autism and is non-verbal. Since buying a house of her own in South Roxana, Harris says she’s wanted an “Autistic Child Area” sign put up so people would know. She is hoping it will stop people from speeding down her street.
“Autistic kids, they don’t see danger,” Harris said. “They don’t see any danger. When they see a car, they don’t see fast and dangerous. They see wheels and that can be visually stimulating for them so that draws them in, not out.”
Another major reason for wanting the sign is that they live right across the street from a park in South Roxana. Harris and her son spend nearly every day playing outside. The sign will help tell other parents what they might expect at the park.
“Oh that kid’s not talking, that’s the reason why they’re not talking,” Harris says. “My kid is trying to talk to them and I can probably explain to my kid. It’s not awkward for me to have to explain to their child.”
One day while Harris was working her job at a restaurant, South Roxana Police Chief Bob Coles walked in. She asked if an “Autistic Child Area” sign was an option outside her house. Within days, Chief Coles made sure it was put up.
“When she told me about it, I honestly didn’t give it two thoughts,” Chief Coles says. “I knew I was gonna do it.”
Not only does it help Harris, but Chief Coles says it could help first responders in the future.
“If we get pulled up to a scene and we see the sign outside of a house, it’s gonna make us think twice if we go in there,” Chief Coles said. “We’ve had issues with 15,16-year-old kids and they’re non-verbal and the cop isn’t aware of that at the time, it can create some tense moments.”
Harris told News 4 that being a parent to an autistic child can feel lonely. This sign allowed her to finally feel seen.
“Use your voice for them,” she said. “Don’t stop. Keep pushing because nothing’s going to happen if you don’t speak up.”
The sign has only been up for a few days but Harris said she’s already noticed less speeding down her street.
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