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December 03, 2010  |   Comments (0)   |   Post a comment

Driver, aide use training to calm autistic student


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MARYSVILLE, Ohio — A bus driver and aide for Marysville Exempted Village Schools helped keep a van of special-needs students safe during a high-stress situation in September.

An autistic student riding to school in the van became agitated due to the high volume of traffic on the freeway. After the student broke one of the vehicle's windows, the driver and aide used the training they had received from the district to calm and reassure the student.

Driver April Grubbs was trying to maneuver off the freeway when the student lunged over her seat, alarmed and upset. Grubbs had been unable to leave the freeway at the correct exit due to numerous accidents, breaking with the autistic child's routine and causing him to become stressed. When the child shattered the window and attempted to lean out and touch the other vehicles on the freeway, Susan Smith, the bus aide, pulled him back inside.

"The driver and the aide just did a really excellent job of keeping everyone safe," Amy Morgan, director of transportation for Marysville Exempted Village Schools, told SBF. "Had [the student] been able to get out of the van, he would have surely been killed."

Smith and Grubbs created a game to calm the student. They urged him to count traffic lights, and then pointed out familiar landmarks to help him keep track of his location on the drive home from school.

"It was wonderful that they were able to get so creative," Morgan said. "They just went above and beyond."

To read about more heroic actions by pupil transporters, check out the Heroes in School Transportation feature in our forthcoming January issue.


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