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PHILADELPHIA: 400 applications for 'autistic person area' signs

April 10, 2024, CBS News:  Philadelphia father working to protect people with autism by installing street signs across city

A Philadelphia father has been working to protect people with autism by installing street signs with the goal of getting drivers to slow down. 

Residents might notice new signs throughout Philadelphia that read "autistic person area."

Eric Williams is the man behind the very personal campaign. He's the founder of Project Elijah Empowering Autism, or PEEA, a nonprofit named after his son, who was diagnosed with the disorder at age 3.

 "We need to bring more awareness to motorists," Williams said. "We see a lot of hit-and-runs going on lately."

The signs are meant to send a message to drivers because a person with autism may cross the street with little warning. Interested families can fill out an online application.

PEEA will then work with the Streets Department to install a sign. 

"Rolled it out about two months ago, and it's just been going amazing," Williams said. "So, close to 400 applications to date, they installed 77 signs and counting."

One of those signs went up outside the building where Jamila Tucker-Mulero works. She runs a nonprofit that provides after-school activities to 12 children with autism, including her teenage son.

"We have a little boy, when he gets picked up, he instantly runs out in the street. We have school buses that drop the kids off here. You get cars that fly by, don't stop," Tucker-Mulero said. 

That's why she says this sign is so important.

"It's another level of security, another level of safety, not only for my son, but for the kids that we serve," Tucker-Mulero said. 

Williams is moved by the outpouring of support.

"All of the good comments that come across social media, the emails, it's just so encouraging," Williams said. 

Williams says he's just getting started. He says he's planning to talk to city council to get funding so more signs like these can go up. 

Williams also wants to see one on all four corners of every school in the city. 


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