Monday, September 10, 2012

Busing, Transportation and the Child with a Disability, Especially the Non Verbal Child, What to do?

I struggle with stories of children left in busses (but read about them every school year) or lost from bus routes, because I know there are bad bus drivers and bad people in the world.  I also know that there are honest people who drive buses and are bus aides in in the world.  My parents are both bus drivers and grandparents of a child with autism.  I worked for the same school district as they did, as a bus aide before autism.   

I have also had a contracted transportation company lose Austin for over an hour. With no explanation and no explanation on why he was 4 and the car seat they handed me was set up for a newborn. 
As a child of a bus driver, a former employee of a transportation company and as a parent of a child with a disabilities I can see all sides.  Instead of waiting until after the fact and something happens lets look at how we can prevent issues. 

Lets look how we as parents can be proactive and protect our children from this kind of thing. 

1) Call both the teacher and the bussing department when your child is going to miss school.   

2) Make sure your teacher is in the habit of checking his or her messages every morning right before school starts.  If you have to call last minute, talk to the secretary on campus and make sure they contact the teacher and let them know your child WILL NOT BE ON THE BUS!!! )  

3)  Ask your transportation company for their policy on how the bus/van driver checks out of their bus/van at the end of any shift including breaks and lunch. Most bus companies have policies on walking through the vehicle before you lock up.  Ask how they check and enforce that drivers and the company are enforcing those policies! Ask if they have cameras on buses/vans. 

4) If there is any issue, know your rights, know you can write bussing/transportation/car seats etc. into your child's IEP.  Districts will tell you no, but I can tell you according to the California Department of Education's Head of Transportation and the CHP Officer who tests all school bus drivers in California,  who both in the past wrote letters on Austin's behalf and put it into his past IEP's, yes you can and yes you should! 

Bottom line, we have a whole lot of non verbal kids out there and the only people out there protecting our kid are us!  

That being said, "stuff" happens and people make mistakes.  

Cover your child's ass and make sure you are doing everything you can to avoid "human error" and  mistakes.  Be smart, be a PITA!!  Your kid expects it of you and so do I!! Now go change the world, at least the world your kid lives in!!