I have read an interesting story about some persons with an autistic child who were given a hard time by their neighbors. They filed complaints claiming that the child may have been a menace of some sort and he might come out with his father's firearm. The father, a commercial airline pilot, is required to have a firearm as part of his work due to 9/11 and part of the homeland security act. They tried to get a court injunction to get these neighbors to stay on their driveway. They called 911 on the people when the man stepped out to talk to another father about his autistic son being picked on by another boy in the neighborhood. They have reported these parents to child protective services. They called the airline where the father worked and complained about him. All of these complaints were unsubstantiated and dropped.
The solution to this problem was to post a sign on the street warning people that there was an autistic child in the neighborhood. I am not sure what this is supposed to accomplish. Apparently, there was a lot of notoriety revolving around the case and all the people in the neighborhood know that he is autistic. It seems that having the sign in the neighborhood would be bad for the child and the family as there would be a certain stigma attached to it. How having a sign there would benefit the child, the neighbors or anyone else who may happen to drive or walk on that street in an apparently isolated residential area is beyond me.
One devil's advocate argument that could be made is that autistic children often have problems with elopement. Some of them have drowned or been run over by cars, etc. But sometimes typical children play in the street also. I know of one typical child in my neighborhood who was hit by a car at age 4. I also remember from my youth signs, saying "children at play" on one or two streets. Certainly a sign like this could be put up rather than the sign singling out the autistic child and the same result would occur.
However, there may be something I am missing. Perhaps there is some other reason to warn people about an autistic person. If that is the case why stop at having a sign in the child's neighborhood. Why not require the child (or possibly even adult) to wear a sign around their neck saying, "Caution, I am autistic (or Asperger's), I may do something bad". They are not going to just be confined to their neighborhood. They will end up going out into the world. Regardless of whether they just stay on the street where they live or go out to places, autism will cause them and the people around them some sort of problems. Prejudicial attitudes won't be just confined to one's own neighborhood. So what of the idea that autistics should be required to wear a sign around their neck at all times. After all at one time people with leprosy had to wear a warning sign and shout "unclean" when approaching persons not afflicted with the disease. Diabetics and epileptics wear medic-alert bracelets to warn people. Of course Leprosy, epilepsy and diabetes are quite different from autism since Leprosy is an infectious disease which was contagious (and at one time incurable) and diabetics can go into an insulin-induced coma and persons with epilepsy can have seizures and be rendered unconscious.
Disclosure is given as a quick fix solution to some of the problems of autistics, claiming that for the autistic who wants to make a living and not be fired or have problems with the employer that they should be upfront with their employer (or prospective employer) about the disability and then there won't be problems on the job. As this has not been the case with me, Stephanie Keil or Michelle Dawson (all three of us have lost jobs in spite of disclosure) and others that I know, I really don't think disclosure works. If we teach acceptance, the NT world will learn to tolerate differences and autism won't be a problem, at least according to neurodiversity. In fact, I remember something autism diva wrote someplace (though I don't have the link handy) that neurodiversity was about getting people like Rick Rollens to stop calling autistics "train wrecks" or "toxic waste dumps" and Jon Shestack to stop saying they are "empty shells", then employers will be more inclined to hire persons with autism.
I sort of worry about what might happen in light of this neighborhood sign. I can't think of how humiliating and degrading it would be if autistic children (and adults) were required to wear some sort of sign around their necks. Simple solutions to hard problems like autism are always tempting; however, I hope that neither I nor anyone else will ever be forced to wear a sign around our neck.