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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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Jean Zimmerman is supervisor of occupational and physical therapy for the School District of Palm Beach County (Fla.).
<p>Jean Zimmerman is supervisor of occupational and physical therapy for the School District of Palm Beach County (Fla.).</p>
Impact on bus rides, evacuations  
Now that we have a snapshot of ASD, here are factors to consider when transporting students with autism, and information on how it can affect the school bus ride, both during a normal route and during an evacuation.

• In regard to touch, the student may be fearful, anxious or aggressive toward a light or unexpected touch.

• Other students may crave touch. They will seek out surfaces and textures that provide strong tactile feedback. These are the students who need a firm touch when being moved or led from the bus.

• The student with poor tactile perception may be afraid of the dark and may not be able to identify which part of their body was touched by something if they were not looking. In addition, some students with autism appear fearful of standing in close proximity to other people, especially in lines.

• Students who are hypersensitive to movement will appear terrified of falling, even when there is no real risk of it. They are afraid of heights and fearful of their feet leaving the ground.

• By contrast, the students who are not hypersensitive to movement are thrill seekers and dangerous at times. As previously mentioned, they are always running, jumping or hopping instead of walking.

ASD is very complicated to understand, as is knowing how to work with children who have an ASD. You must know your students and how they match up to the scenarios outlined in this article.

It is the role of the teachers and transportation staff to work together closely so that they are aware of how to treat the students on the bus and during an evacuation.  

Remember: If you have set rules that you have your students follow every day, they will be more likely to follow those directions during an evacuation.

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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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