Kristina Chew adds:
Julia Cox fears a speeding motorist one day will hit her 21-year-old son on her street.
"My son has autism," she said. "You picture a 21-year-old taking off like he's 3 years old, and I can't do anything about it. I don't want him to run out in the street, but sometimes he just does."
For more than a year, Cox, 46, begged the village to put up a sign to warn motorists to drive with extra care in the area. In January, a sign reading "Caution: Handicapped Person" was erected near the end of her driveway, in the 18400 block of Ridgewood Avenue.
On July 22, the sign was vandalized.
"Retard F U" was written across the bottom of it in thick black ink. Cox was hurt and angry.
"My son is not retarded; he has autism," she said. "I can only imagine how many other single parents are mothers like me who are going through the same thing, and this is not what we need. I don't bother anybody. He doesn't bother anybody. Why would somebody do this?"
Lansing police took a criminal damage report July 23, but they are apprehensive to allocate resources to do a full-blown investigation, Lt. Dan Sylvester said.
I’ve seen signs saying “autistic child” in our neighborhood (like the one illustrating this post), just as one sees signs for a child who’s deaf or hearing impaired, or for someone who is blind or visually impaired. Disability rights advocates prefer not to use the word “handicapped” as it puts most of the emphasis on a person’s limitations; I’m not sure if wording the sign in front of Cox’s house differently might have made a difference. Authorities in her town might be advised to learn about the tragic case of a British mother, Fiona Pilkington, who killed herself and her severely disabled daughter, Francecca Hardwick, in 2007, after years of harassment by youths who threw stones, flour, bottles and other objects at their house, jumped in the front hedge, and sometimes just loitered around for hours shouting abusive language.