RIO GRANDE — Rio Grande officials will soon be placing awareness signs along Lake Drive and near the Jacob’s Crossing apartments in an attempt to prompt drivers to pass through the respective neighborhoods more slowly and understand that there may be children with autism in the area.
“I think that people need to be aware that there are children in every aspect of this county and village that may have a disability or have autism,” said Shelby Willis, Rio Grande village council member. “We’re a pretty progressive village.”
According to Willis, there will be two signs on Lake Drive to make drivers aware there is a child with autism in the area and they should be cautious when passing through the area. Willis has said in her experience as a parent with a child that displays signs of autism spectrum disorder. To her knowledge, there are no similar signs in other Gallia County communities.
“My child does not know (he should not) go out in the road,” Willis said. “He has no concept of danger.”
Shelby keeps as close an eye as possible on her son, Aaron Willis, 9.
“My neighbors are all aware of him and they know if he’s out and they don’t see me, they better go get him,” Shelby said. “We’ve had discussions with the neighbors and things like that.”
Willis emphasized the necessity of safety around the children in the fact that many of them do not understand the concept of danger. She has ordered four signs this week to soon be displayed in the coming month.
The signs will specifically say “Child with Autism Area.”
Willis said there was also potential concern with individuals living in the ResCare facility on Cherry Ridge Road, a property recently annexed into the village that houses developmentally disabled adults.
“I worry about the ResCare (facility) also since we did annex them in,” Willis said. “We’re going to look for signs for that (area). Maybe not ones that mention autism, but something similar.”
“I more than support councilwoman Willis’ project,” said Rio Grande Mayor Matt Easter. “Not only will it raise awareness, it will hopefully make drivers more cautious.”
Autism spectrum disorder encompasses a group of complex disorders of brain development. The disorders can be characterized in varying degrees in which individuals have difficulty in social interaction, nonverbal and verbal communication and can display repetitive behaviors. Organizations who work with individuals who possess ASD qualities often recognize such disorders to be categorized along a sliding scale as opposed to specific labels.
Dean Wright can be reached at (740) 446-2342, Ext. 2103.