Breaking News
More () »

Push persists for statewide approval of 'child with autism' signs

A Lancaster mother 2 On Your Side reported on in July will now be getting the sign she requested several months ago, thanks to help from community leaders.

LANCASTER, N.Y. — When talking about her son, 3-year-old Luciano, Maria Tennant said, "He is a genius. He puts together puzzles, 500 pieces. He is a lovable child, and we would not have him any other way."

Luciano also has autism, and because of that Maria has been fighting to get a "child with autism" sign in their Lancaster neighborhood.

"Children with autism are not cognizant of any danger. They have the tendency to run out into the street or into a parking lot with no fear whatsoever," she said.

We first told you about the Tennant family over the summer, shortly after their request for a sign had been denied.

At the time, a family in the Village of Hamburg faced the same obstacle.

They were both told that the signs were not technically approved by the New York State Department of Transportation and therefore they weren't allowed in their neighborhoods.

However, the signs were already up in other communities

In our initial reporting in July, we took these concerns to the Department of Transportation, and received this statement in response:

"The Department of Transportation adheres to the federal Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices when authorizing signs on state highways, which unfortunately does not include this particular sign.

"The Department is equally committed to ensure the safety of all children and will work with the community to devise a potential solution that adheres to federal standards."

Our stories over the summer prompted Assemblymember Monica Wallace, who represents Lancaster, to take action.

In July she told 2 on Your Side, "The Department of Transportation actually does have authority under existing law to do that. But now that you've brought the issue to my attention, I'm very glad that you have done that because I plan to reach out personally to the New York State Department of Transportation and discuss this issue."

Now, after a long effort, Maria will finally be getting the sign she requested, to keep Luciano as safe as possible. 

"We are extremely grateful. The work and dedication that was put in by our community leaders is just exceptional," she said.

Maria doesn't know exactly where the sign will go, but she said it will likely be put up this week.

Maria has advice for drivers who come across these signs while on the road.

"Look around. Look around because there could be a child that bolts out at any moment," she added, "To have that awareness out there is just huge."

Outside the Tennant home on Thursday, Assemblymembers Monica Wallace and Sean Ryan are holding a news conference about this. 

A spokesperson with Ryan's office says the Department of Transportation is expected to announce a rule change, which would now allow the "child with autism" signs for individuals who qualify.

RELATED: Assemblymember Monica Wallace calls for autism sign approval

RELATED: State lawmaker says NYSDOT can approve autism signs

RELATED: Village of Hamburg mother wants 'Child With Autism' sign on her street

RELATED: Hamburg joins Erie County towns with 'Child with Autism' signs

Before You Leave, Check This Out