Guest Author - Bonnie Sayers
A book is being put together that will be for parents of newly diagnosed children from parents who have dealt with many issues for years and have advice, suggestions, positive thoughts and entitlements these parents may not know about.
The categories to share related experiences are family, education and services available. The Form with your advice and consent to add to the book will help other parents by having all this advice at their fingertips.
Ronna Glickman is the owner of Safe Bus, which came to light after a December 2004 incident on the school bus with the driver, aide and her 12 year-old son Andy over his use of a hand-held radio that kept him entertained during the bus ride.
Her local news station carried the story and soon Ronna received emails from other parents relating their school bus horror stories. As listed in a letter on the Safe Bus site - "My goal is to increase community awareness, and to secure legislation that mandates ALL special education buses to be equipped with audio and visual recording equipment. I feel that if people are held accountable for their actions and words, abuse against the most vulnerable children can and will be virtually eliminated."
Her Story shares how she sewed a microcassette recorder into Andy's backpack, pressing the record button before he got on board the bus from home. The end result from the taunting remarks was the firing of the busdriver and aide, as well as an apology from the bus company.
I personally have never placed either of my autistic children on a school bus. Luckily we live around the corner from the Elementary School. I have over the years observed the behavior of bus drivers towards the children riding the bus. It seems from my observations that most drivers are also smokers. I would rather the drivers be non smokers, but not sure if that can be mandated. There are drivers that are kind and caring, but there are others that are simply rude and inconsiderate to the children they are transporting.
If you agree that all special education buses must have audio and visual equipment on board, sign the Petition at Safe Bus.
There are products like the E-Z-On vest and Ride Ryte Booster for school bus transportation.
The Automotive Safety Program has a Special Needs Transportation section that is worth reading. The School Bus Safety Page by the United States Department of Transportation.
The Source for School Bus & Pupil Transportation News including Federal Laws, School Bus Security and clean buses. There is an annual conference, trade shows and weekly newsletters.
Teachers can gain access to new changes in the law by becoming members of the National Association of Special Education Teachers.
Make sure you have specific instructions pertaining to the bus written into the IEP. If your child has behavior issues you may want to consider A Functional Behavior Assessment. My son Matthew's Functional Analysis Assessment Report.
A Laidlaw School Bus Driver's story.
Be familiar with the Regulations on how long a child can ride the bus each way, try to get your child accustomed to the bus before school starts. Obtain a copy of the School Handbook. You might be able to learn the route beforehand so your family can drive the route before school begins. This could be beneficial for the special needs child. For the child that uses a picture exchange communication system (PECS) try Google Images for pictures of school buses to make PECS cards for the daily schedule and make sure the school has some photos of school buses as well. You can learn more by reading about my PECS CLUB.
Here is the information on how Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) handles school transportation for Special Education students. Our experience with the Britax Husky
Driver's Ready Reference Card for School Bus Drivers - from crisisprevention.com
A worthwhile book to obtain for both the aide and parent is How To be A Para Pro: A Comprehensive Training Manual for Paraprofessionals is available at Amazon. I picked up mine last year and loaned it to another aide who had expressed an interest in becoming my son's assistant. This book offered great insight to me as a parent with many case examples.
School Bus Driver Requirements
Ideas that work for the bus
Develop some Classroom Modifications for the Autistic Student
What happens at school Before the Bell Rings
The Pros and Cons of Assessments
Maybe a Behavior Support Plan is the next step.