Friday, April 24, 2009

The Intersection of Death, and the Birth of The Autism Friendly Alliance

Today I took my kids to school. Their schools are next door to each other, within a neighborhood, and getting into the neighborhood is like dodging the death train with morning traffic.

No, really.

So, after I dropped the kids off, I was thankful to see that the traffic cops were still at the busy 4 way intersection. (Which, by the way, has no traffic light. No so bad, except that I have to turn left across traffic, when I can't see over the Escalades and Tahoes to my right. This doesn't even bring to the table the cars coming out of the intersection on the opposite end, or the traffic on the busy street turning either my way or the other way, both of which block my view, my path or my concentration.

Yes, thank gosh for the traffic cops.

Although, this morning, as I was making what I secretly refer to as the "death turn", the traffic cop was miffed that I wasn't turning fast enough. He was just standing, so I hesitated before going through the intersection. This, of course, prompted him to emphatically wave his arm in a "come on, come on..." motion, and he face and body language seemed to say, "what are you waiting for?"

(Uh, some reassurance that I am not going to be hit either broad-side or head on, for starters.)

This was when I nervously went on the inside of the (too widely placed, in my opinion) orange traffic pylons.

Every time I drop the kids off, I think to myself that those damned pylons (or "cones"), are placed in such a way, that it forces a VERY wide turn and it's a real challenge to get around them when turning left. (Especially when you are going above 1.672 mph.) But get around them I (eventually) do. Except for when I have just been wordlessly scolded by a traffic cop, apparently.

Ok, so I accidentally found myself turning on the inside of the conical area, instead of outside of it the way the Escalades have to turn. I didn't have an automotive close call or anything. I was rattled so I missed taking the extra effort to make that super-duper, extra wide turn which is required. (I'm not in a big SUV, so I don 't need a wide turning angle like the other moms.)

So, what is worse for an Aspie than being wordlessly scolded by a traffic cop for not driving quickly enough? Hearing the same cop shouting, "Awwww! Come ON!" for accidentally making a clean turn while trying to go faster, so I don't get shouted at. (Ironically.)

Let me tell you, it's been a tough morning.

I ended up pulling into the gas station down the road. I was going to turn around and talk to the cop, explain that this is the second time (at least) that he has (literally) shouted at me, when all I am doing is trying to drive cautiously through the Intersection of Death.

And this was when I decided how to implement my "Autism Friendly Campaign"... Quite simply through something I think will be really amazing, called the Autism Friendly Alliance.

Sounds cool, doesn't it?

So, what exactly is the Autism Friendly Alliance (AFA)?

It's a group of companies, organizations and establishments who want to say:

"We are Autism Friendly."

Companies, organizations and establishments who wish to promote themselves as Autism Friendly can download the below AF logo and use it on their company marketing materials or displays.

So, what's the big deal about being Autism Friendly? Well, more information is to follow, but for now, you can look at it this way: There are enough people with autism or with kids with autism, who feel socially ostracized, that when companies promote themselves as Autism Friendly we all win.

In addition to establishments like retail stores, restaurants, and religious organizations,

companies who welcome applicants with autism can indicate the AF logo in their hiring materials, and those qualified applicants with autism spectrum disorders can know that this is a "safe" company. Many people do not realize two things:

#1 Many people with autism are frightened of the way they will be viewed socially, whether in the workplace, social circles or as a consumer.

#2 Many people do not realize just how many of "us" there are out here. Opening the doors, in a welcoming way to those with autism, means more good stuff goes in.

As for the A Panoptic Life blog...? No, this blog isn't going anywhere, but there is a new blog in development, called (you guessed it...) The Autism Friendly Alliance. Read The Autism Friendly Alliance blog to learn more about the alliance, how it works, and how to become a part of the alliance.

(But remember, I'm a one woman show over here! There will be more details on the blog in the days and weeks to come!)

But wait! There's more!!! The blog will be designed to collect information that people and families submit, saying that they had an Autism Friendly experience, or that an establishment is Autism Friendly.

If we spread the word about The Autism Friendly Alliance, we, as parents of kids, and/or individuals with autism spectrum disorders, will have a way to see at a glance if the establishment is familiar with autism. If so, it means a higher level of acceptance. More acceptance means there is less room for fear.

But as for the traffic cop... Did I ever go back to help him understand the situation? Well...

I did pull into the gas station (it is on the right, so I didn't have to cross the Highway of Hell), and I even got all my makeup on so he wouldn't think I was a homeless panhandler as I approached him. But before I actually turned back around, I realized that my registration is expired. See, I have a hard time with paper-work, forms, stuff like that. It has to do with the Aspergers. (Really, it does.) But I figured that while he might understand that his shouting "makes my Aspergers flare up", I might get a ticket in the process.

I guess I have a lot of work to do.

Until next time!

-Lorin Neikirk

Update 5/4/09: So, this past Friday I noticed that they are in the process of putting a light up at the Intersection of Death. I guess I'm not the only one who gets a little edgy about the chance of losing a life or three at that locale! I took this picture while (safely!) stopped and waiting for the traffic cop (yes, the one who scolded me not once, but twice), to wave me forward, to turn left. You can see the damned pylons if you get a magnifying glass. Like I said... They are way out there!

Read my book about understanding autism,
found on Amazon and Kindle


  1. We have to carefully pick our battles, and with an expired registration sticker, a ticket would've been a real bummer.

    I like what you're doing with the Autism Alliance concept. People I know from the Focus Initiative in Stafford have told me that there are a few autism friendly locations in the Sugarland area. But yeah, knowing that there are companies or businesses that declare themselves autism friendly, would be a relief.

  2. Hi there! Nice to hear from you!

    I'm excited about the Alliance, and looking forward to doing some things with it on an official level. Been pretty busy (understatement) so getting it up and running is on my list of things to get going on! Lol!

    Great hearing from you- I'm looking forward to meeting up with y'all soon... This summer my schedule changes, and schedules will mesh a lot better. It will be great to indulge in that little luxury! :)

    See you soon, and thank you for the comment!



Diverse opinions are not only welcomed, but encouraged! Innovation is the introduction of new ways to see something which already exists. Diverse opinions foster more diversity of thought and consequently, innovation! (I LOVE that!)

Thank you for commenting on my blog!

Check out my stuff!