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August 07, 2012  |   Comments (1)   |   Post a comment

Transporting students with autism

Autism can affect behavior, speech and language development, sensorimotor skills, visual and auditory processing, and learning skills. Understanding the extent of this condition in your passengers will help in determining how they should be treated during bus rides and evacuations.

by Jean M. Zimmerman

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The earlier a family knows their child has an autism spectrum disorder (ASD), the sooner they can get help for the child. There is a new clinical report from the American Academy of Pediatrics that will help pediatricians recognize ASD in their patients earlier, and help them assess it. There is also a second report that talks about educational strategies and associated therapies for ASD.

The world of ASD is a very complicated one. Autism can affect behavior, speech and language development, sensorimotor skills, visual and auditory processing, and learning skills. This article will discuss the areas that might be affected in a child with an ASD, the effects of it and how it can impact school bus transportation and evacuations.

Signs of an autism spectrum disorder
Our brain regulates how we interpret all the information that comes to us from the environment. The information can include stimuli, such as touch, movement, sight, sound and gravity. Once the brain receives this information, it interprets the information as being too much (hypersensitive), too little (hyposensitive) or just the right amount.

Many students with an ASD will have trouble with tactile stimulation. A light touch can feel to some students like a truck is on their shoulders. Other students can have a heavy object on them and they will feel no additional weight. The child will react very differently between a light touch and a heavy touch.

Language is another area that is affected by an ASD. The child may not even babble at 1 year of age. Some children will start to develop language and then stop abruptly. Although their hearing has been checked, they still do not respond to their name. The children also will not point to things to direct people’s attention, and they will avoid eye contact and cuddling.

Children with autism may also have vestibular dysfunction. These children may be over-responsive to movement. We all know these children — the ones afraid of playground equipment, who avoid taking risks and may appear “wimpy.” These students may also be fearful of going up or down stairs or walking on uneven surfaces. The students who are under-responsive to movement are in constant motion; they could spin for hours and never appear to be dizzy. They are “thrill seekers,” always running, jumping, hopping, etc., instead of walking.

Other signs of ASD include oral input dysfunction, auditory dysfunction, olfactory dysfunction, visual input dysfunction, and social, emotional, play and self-regulation dysfunction.

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Great Story, Jean has soooooooo much info that helps anyone in the Transportation Business, School or otherwise!!!! Thanks

Pat Jensen    |    Sep 07, 2012 02:33 PM

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