Thursday, May 28, 2009

Handicapped Child in Area

Deaf Child Area, Blind Child Area, Caution: Handicapped Child in Area.

I feel pretty opposed to having a sign like this in front of my house, and I'm not sure why...

Why? Why do these signs make me cringe? I've thought about it a lot over the past year, especially every time I am driving and see a sign like this.

Before doing any research on the issue, I already had a very hard time believing that a sign like this actually works. Does your average person truly slow down and drive with more caution when they see these signs? Do they just ignore it? Does it distract them from driving because they are looking for a disabled child? I gotta be honest and say that I've never driven any differently after seeing one of these signs. Of course, I generally tend to drive the speed limit and be very cautious any time there are CHILDREN playing near the street...with or without disabilities.

I also wonder about the impact that it could have on the child to have a sign like this posted in front of their house. Do they really want to point out to the world every day that they are a "handicapped child?" Is there an implication that they don't have the sense or ability to keep themselves safe, at least as well as anyone else? I think the argument could be made that a child who is deaf, blind, or physically disabled might be more capable of learning to be safe. It seems they may quite possibly learn to use their other senses (as well as a great big dose of common sense) to be aware of dangerous situations out of necessity.

Maybe I would feel differently if I had a child with severe autism, a cognitive disability, or a behavioral disorder who may truly not understand the danger of running into the street. I suppose in these cases there is a chance I might really feel my child is at risk. But would the sign make a difference?

I started thinking that maybe just a "children at play" sign would be better...until I did some research and found an article basically stating that "there is no evidence that special warning signs of this sort reduce driver speeds or crash rates."

The bottom line is that we won't be requesting a sign. If I thought it would work I would be more likely to consider it, but even then it would cause me discomfort. Instead I will teach my kids to be aware of their environment and use common sense. Be cautious, stay away from the road, and pay attention to cars. I plan to get one of those "Slow: Children at Play" driveway safety signs to discourage cars from pulling into my driveway to turn around when we are outside.

I understand that accidents happen, but as their parent I will do my best to keep them safe (as in, I will be ultra paranoid and never let them out of my sight anyway).

I'm curious to hear everybody's thoughts on this. Do you have a sign? Why or why not? Do you pay attention to the signs? Do they change the way you drive? Do you like the signs? How do these signs make you feel? What do you guys think?


Anna said...

Hi Billie.

I do not have a sign in front of my house, but it is on a bend and a sign would not work for us because cars would not see it early enough to slow down. I think cars speed up too much in front of my house, and I often wondered if I shouldn't ask the city to put speed bumps or maybe those plastic bullets on the street. Maybe we'll do it one of these days. I like speed bumps better than signs, because they don't require much of a decision on the driver's part, so they work even on inconsiderate drivers.

A few of my neighbors put a sign made of bright yellow plastic in the shape of a running child, holding a flag, that says 'slow down!'. I am not sure how effective it is. I notice it and slow down even further, but I have children and I am aware of the danger.
My girls have no disability, but I don't see what's the difference in this case. In fact, a child that can run fast can also run fast after a ball in the middle of the street, so if anything there should be special signs for fast runners!
In the end I believe prevention is the best strategy, and while I am a pushover of a mom for most things, I will never let my daughters cross the street without giving me the hand, even if it means putting up with a tantrum sometimes. When I see some squished object in the middle of the street I point it how to show the damage cars can do. I think since I showed a squished tomato in the middle of the road to my daughter she has been much more cooperative with holding my hand. There is also a nice book from Richard Scarry called "the please and thank you book". It also has a story or two about safety, and I like to read it to my oldest daughter ever so often.

All the best

Aunt Becky said...

Good question. I don't have a handicapped child (or a child handicapped enough for a sign) but you know what? I *do* drive more carefully when I see one of those signs. I'll be interested to see the responses you get.

Greta Myers said...

Hi Billie, great post. I completely agree with you. I do like the "children at play" sign, even though I always try to drive very carefully thru the neighborhoods, the sign I just mentioned makes me pay even more attention.

LoneWolfArcher said...

I tend to drive more cautiously when seeing a sign. The reason? Because if a child runs out in front of me they may not see me, or hear my horn if I blow it, etc.

I cannot imagine the horror of ever hitting a child with my car. Those signs are there for a reason and if a driver doesn't become more aware of their surroundings after seeing one then that is on them, not the idea behind the sign.

Taylors said...

I have to say that I haven't seen one of these signs in a while (since before I had kids), but prior to my having children with disabilities, I did not pay much attention to the signs. However, at that time in my life, I was pretty reckless about everything. I think now that I have children, I would heed the sign. But, I don't think I'll be posting one in front of my house. The "children at play" sign should basically serve the same purpose.

Abby Normal said...

there is a child who lives near me who has a hearing problem. and his parents requested a "deaf child in area" sign that was put up fairly close to my house. i don't know if i slow down, but i always pay more attention to the sidewalk because i know he wouldn't be able to hear my car. i know he isn't going to run into the street without looking, but at the same time he is a child and might forget. i appreciate the warning to pay attention. however, everyone should watch for children and should teach the children to look and listen for cars, but the sign warns people that there is a child who may be less able to see or hear them.

Smithsholidayroad said...

Hi Billie,
I guess I find this concept so foreign as I live in Australia I have never seen or heard of this! I understand where they are coming from but again it's just another "label" to make our kids stand out when ALL kids need to be safe and protected independent of their ability. That said "children at play" encompases all children and I would be more cautious if I saw this.

Keri said...

When I was growing up, my parents always had the town erect a "Deaf Children at Play" sign because of my brother and me. I'm not sure how effective it was but I know that when I see a "Deaf Child at Play" sign, I get a secret thrill..."Oooh, a deaf child lives around here?!! Where? Where? I want to meet them!" ;)

My neighbor recently erected a "Children at Play" sign and I think it has been effective because people do drive in our road very fast and our road is a dead end road so it's our neighbors who are driving fast. =( I'm glad for that sign because my kids and I always play outside and walk along the dirt road to pick up our mail at the beginning of the road.

Definitely get that "Children at Play" sign.

Barb said...

I do not have a sign. I live in a housing development that is a circle so there really isn’t away to speed through here. Between children & pets people are pretty careful, even the teenagers. I do pay attention to the signs especially the ones that people have personally put out (I feel someone has definitely put that out with love). There is actually one on my way to/from work that is green looks similar to a child running, every time I see it I check my speed limit to make sure I’m going slow enough & I become more observant. Now that I’m thinking of it, I have never actually seen a child even playing at that house but they obviously care about someone there or near by. I do not have a handicap child but I can see how it would be bothersome to have a sign put out by the town/state near my home. It is basically being labeled which I don’t think a child or a parent needs. Also in today’s society which can be pretty scary I would be hesitant in the sense then someone may feel they can take advantage of a situation (sorry if that scares the hell out of you but times are definitely not the same as when I was a child and I’m only 31). Hope this helps with your research.

Anne said...

I have a bit of an odd sign story, but one that did work. My extended family lives on a small West Indian island. Although the speed limit is 20 mph, there are some locals (and tourists) who are seemingly trying out for the Daytona 500.

There is one road (yup, one road, it is called "The Road"). My Aunt's daughter had been living in Germany and came home to visit, bringing her three young children. She brought a fairly large (2' x 2') sign with her warning that there were children at play. The sign has some cartoon-ish figures of children playing. The sign is in German. No one on the island speaks German.

Everyone (I mean everyone, even the tourists) came to a dead stop to try to read the sign. "Vorsicht-Kinder am Spiel" (or something like that).

So if I ever move out of NYC to the suburbs and have to worry about a sign for Eliza, I am getting one in a foreign language since curiosity alone seems to make people stop their cars.

Kate said...

I wouldn't put up a sign advertising that I have disabled children because I don't see any reason to point out my children's differences to the world (they don't need even MORE people gawking at them; they get enough of that when we're out in public) and in our world of pedophiles & other unsavory characters, I think that having a sign spelling out that my kids are disabled could make them more susceptible to being kidnapped or molested. Why? Because people with disabilities are considered easy prey/targets ~ they can't always run away as fast or scream for help ~ I don't want the jerks of the world seeing the sign and thinking, "Aha... found one!"

Do I slow down when I see the signs? No. I don't drive fast anyhow, though, so that's probably the reason.

I will confess that every time I see the "Slow: children at play" sign, I read it as "slow children at play" (as in "mentally handicapped children playing"). I do the same thing with "Stop ahead" ~ I read it as "stop! A head!" ~ so perhaps I'm just silly that way. :-)

Interesting topic!

Flygirl1 said...

Maybe this is a good chance to promote inclusion. Your 'Children at Play' could include a simple drawing of children, including a child using a wheelchair, at play... A good reminder about inclusion and safety :-)

Sheila said...

I live in Canada, and have never heard of such signs or seen one. I think that having "children crossing" signs or "children at play" signs near schools and parks makes good sense. And if some kind of portable Child at Play sign at the end of your driveway helps warn drivers to be alert, then sure, why not? Although to be very effective a sign should be posted 100 feet ahead of your home, to give them time to slow down.
Since you ask, I don't think a sign specifically about a special-needs child is a good idea, for the reasons others have stated.

Megan said...

I tend to believe that signs are only effective if they are used sparingly. That is, if you have a sign that is always out, then people will eventually ignore it because clearly children aren't ALWAYS playing. So my advice is that if you do get a sign that you specifically put outside to indicate your children are playing, be sure to ONLY use when they are indeed playing and perhaps display it in such as way so drivers know you recently put it out. Just my two cents.

Stacey said...

I am the one who gets distracted once I see the sign, being extra careful that I watch out for which ever child is deaf or handicap.

I feel speed bumps slow me down a little more and make me more aware.

I truly respect the fact that you are making it a way for your children to see beyond their individual selves and also creating a safe and secure environment for them to grow up in. I believe with the attitude and mind set that you have you will raise very confident girls.

With or with out a sign, it does not determine who your children are, ultimately you have to make the decision on what best suites you and your family.

Anonymous said...

I would never place any type of sign. People should drive carefully no matter who's around (children playin, adults walking, dogs...) and parents have to educate their children to be aware of cars, people... At least that's what I do.

Kristin said...

I have a child with Autism and 2 typically devloping kids.

When we are in the front yard, I am more fearful for the safety of my typically devloping children.

They are faster. they can wrong longer. Lauren has hypotonia and dyspraxia. Her running is awkward and therefore slower.

I'm also trying to blend into the neighborhood. I don't always want to be advocate for speical needs, sometimes I just want to play ball with my kids.

Rachel Dominguez said... is my opinion. GET THE SIGN!

I LOOK!!! If I see one, I pay closer attention and slow down.

I feel that there are plenty of people out there that do pay attention to this. YES there are some that dont, and it only takes that one car. But you can have SEVERAL of us that do read and obey!

Your kids deserve a sign.

If you can get one...I'd say do it! A sign will at least stop some! Your kids are worth it to me! I've been reading about them for years and I believe they deserve the sign.

That is just my opinion. We all have our own.

Anonymous said...

I've never heard of this before and live in US, but if I saw a sign like that I would DEFINITELY slow down. A deaf child wouldn't hear my horn, a blind child might run in front of where I'm pulling up...

The children at play signs make me slow down a little, but for deaf and blind kids they might need the heads up because all kids are spontaneous, don't think a lot during play, and put themselves at risk a lot (at least in my neighborhood). They have sight/sound as an extra protective layer.

As for your particular kids, I don't see the need for the sign. They are just normal kids at play.

Anonymous said...

Even as a young child when I would see signs like that I thought of them as offensive to the child that they were referring to. And when I see a sign like that while driving if I don't see a child outside I don't pay special attention. I think a children playing sign would be just as effective, and not point out her differences, as she will probably have enough trouble with that later on.

Emily said...

I don't want one of those signs either, but I do worry about Noah near the street. His gait is so awkward that when he runs his "ears" tend to fall off and he has no peripheral vision. A "normal" kid could see a car coming out of the corner of their eye, but not Noah. And if his CIs were off he couldn't hear it either.
Fortunately we live on a nice quiet street and have a huge backyard that Noah can play in, so it hasn't really come up.
I do think I'm more hyper aware when I see one of those signs, but I watch out for kids in general. I just don't feel the need to advertise my child's disabilities for the world.

Kate said...

I guess the signs that have made sense to me at "Deaf Person" and "Autistic Person" because as a driver I think to myself... beeping may not help if someone wanders too near the road here, I need to slow down and be cautious. I would imagine that to a person who doesn't understand autism the autism sign would not make sense because they may not understand that a person with autism might not have certain safety skills or may not respond to a horn appropriately.

This is an interesting discussion thread, thanks for opening up the conversation about this.

Kristen said...

Our development was going to put a general "children at play" sign but the city rejected the idea saying it would give the kids a false sense of safety and that drivers don't really pay attention to those signs. I agree with you-teach the kids to be cautious and safe you can't rely on the judgement of someone driving down your street. Just thought I would share my input.

Shannon said...

Hi Billie,
There is a "Deaf Child" sign over by our library. It definitely makes me aware and I slow down even though I am going the speed limit.
-Shannon in Austin

Anonymous said...

honestly, when the sign first gets put up, people tend to pay attention to it b/c its new. after a week of seeing the sign, most ignore it (at least, in my experience), slowing down only if they see children playing.

what i feel works better is those little yellow guys (like the ones u mentioned on amazon). my neighbors put them in the middle of the street in front of their driveway - people pay attention and have to slow down to drive around them. no one has ever complained, and there is still plenty of room to get by. when the kids go in, so do the signs.

just my thoughts...

i love that you put eden's CI around her ponytail - she looks so different without the headband - so grown up! and holland looks so spunky with her arms folded! too cute!!

Anonymous said...

I think a children playing sign is a good idea as it reminds people to slow down. My parents always slow down when they see children playing signs.

However, I agree with you that a handicapped children sign would just draw more attention to your childrens' differences and may even have gawkers distracted from driving to look for a "handicapped child" much like roadside memorials may actually cause accidents by distraction rather than warning people of the dangers of unsafe driving.

Anonymous said...

I have had a sign put up for my son who is legally blind, but he is also developmentally disabled and sometimes gets too exited and starts jumping around a lot. We do not usually play in front of our house (the busier street). I had it put up just in case, also there are a lot of other kids in the area and people have been known to speed down our street. Some have tried to get a "children at play" sign put up, but the city would not do it--that's why I thought they might be more likely to put up a sign for a blind child.

I do slow down whenever I see a warning sign such as this, but most do not slow down for our sign. I do agree that speed bumps would help more. Since my son is not aware of the sign (or meaning of it) there is no stigma--and it does not bother me that people know that there is a handicapped child in the area.

K said...

"what i feel works better is those little yellow guys (like the ones u mentioned on amazon). my neighbors put them in the middle of the street in front of their driveway - people pay attention and have to slow down to drive around them. no one has ever complained, and there is still plenty of room to get by. when the kids go in, so do the signs."

Sorry, but that seems like a stupid and unsafe idea to me, putting anything in the road that does not belong there. Personally, my attention would be more drawn to the sign and going around it and therefore less focused on everything else...leaving the kids MORE likely to get hit.

Anonymous said...

OK we have a sign on our street, blind person in area. We live on a very bumpy, dirt road. Neither the bumps, mud holes or the sign slows anyone down. When the kids are outside, some slow down but not all. A ball pitched across the road seems to work.

Don't put up the sign!!
Kids at play across the driveway would be OK. Just my 2cents

Kim said...

I am a perfectly neurotypical person (well, some may say), and when I was five, I ran out into a parking lot. One of my strongest memories of our local mall is my mother and grandmother jerking me back up onto the sidewalk and then subsequent "You could have been hit by a car!" lecture.

I guess I am saying that to say no matter HOW much anyone thinks they've trained their kids, any kid can run into the street. I teach kids with autism and other cognitive/physical disabilities, and it doesn't take severe autism for a child to not sense danger. It's a huge concern of the parents of my highest functioning kids. Because they have no fear of danger.

THAT being said - I can definitely understand not wanting the "Handicapped Child" or "Deaf Child" sign in your yard. What about just a "Children at Play" sign at the end of the street? Especially if cars park on your street and block a driver's view, I think they are excellent. I always slow for those signs. It's too, too scary not to.

Anonymous said...

Nice discussion.

Anonymous said...

I read the signs and slow down. I also scan the sidewalk for a child who might run out. Just like I slow down and watch for kids when I see the "school zone" signs.

Then again, your girls are intellegent and old enough to follow your safety rules, so I can't see how there risk exceeds the risk of any other child getting hit by a car.

Larry Johnson said...

Well I have to say you've given me alot to think about,The street I live on has one other blind person that lives on it 3 houses down from mine and about 15 other small children scattered throughout the street , and the cars really speed up and down the road, I feel I need to get a sign put up in the neighborhood, not only for my child but to protect the whole neighborhood,but now I'm thinking about the affect it would have on my daughter, and I know people dont really pay attention to these signs, but it does make the consequences alot stonger if you do get pulled over for speeding or whatever the reason, I really don't know what to do.

Anonymous said...

Saw your post and wanted to comment. Growing up we had a sign that I think said "Handicapped Child" on it just down the street from my house, near a bend in the road. For years I wondered who that sign was for.... as I walked the street to visit friends with my leg braces on. See, I never saw myself as handicapped. It wasn't until I grew up and was talking to friends about the sign that I realized, that sign was for ME! It didn't impact me, but I did for sorry for that poor child (whoever she or he may be) as I went about my day. Not sure if it helped slow traffic down, and if it did, it certainly helped all of us! But just another perspective from one of those kids... the only benefit I got was the school bus changed their pick up location to my driveway. I knew that was to help me not have to walk to a stop... in my mind that was a perk!