Back to School…and transportation
Do You Talk to Bus Drivers about Your Child?
When we think of communicating with schools about our children with autism, we often think of the principal and teachers. There are many other staff members who come in contact with our children, and bus drivers (or other providers of transportation) are also very important. Especially when starting at a new school, it is important to meet your child’s bus driver, to share information as well as to make that personal contact. It’s always easier to meet someone BEFORE there is a problem. This can be a good time to give the driver your contact information and to describe your child’s challenges and your child’s strengths.
Think about what issues your child (or you) might have with the transportation, keeping in mind the characteristics of autism for your child: how does your child communicate—picture cards, augmentative communication device, other means? What sensory issues might be a problem on the bus—diesel fumes, other people sitting too close, wearing a seatbelt? Are there repetitive behaviors that might be an issue—humming, flapping, spinning? Does your child understand the unwritten social rules on a bus—where to sit, how many can sit per bench, how to know when to exit? How will your child be prepared for the transition to the bus and off the bus?
Here is a link to a very helpful guide from Autism Speaks—take a look at their School Community Tool Kit for guides to talk with all school personnel (custodians, bus drivers, office staff, etc.): http://www.autismspeaks.org/community/family_services/school_kit_specific_members.php
Consider also Ellen Notbohm’s book, 1001 Great Ideas for Teaching and Raising Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders:
“Parents or teachers can help make the ride easier for everyone by creating a Driver Tip sheet that lists important information about a child and how best to communicate with him. Include his photo, a short positive description of the child, his likes (reinforcers) and dislikes, a list of simple strategies that work with him and some activities that can be done on the bus that will keep the child’s interest.”
You can customize profiles to describe your child, adding or deleting as necessary. Maybe this can help avoid your child getting on the wrong bus or riding it to the end accidentally because there was a substitute driver that day, or getting suspended from the bus!