Autistic 3 Year Old Left On Bus For Five Hours In Dirty Diaper
Levi Vidal, 3, has autism. That means, at the very least, he has trouble making sense of the world around him. Stability and predictability go a long way towards keeping Levi calm and happy. A five-hour bus ride home after school does not fit into this equation. Doing so in diaper (Levi is not potty trained and may not be for years, a fun perk of autism) that long ago reached its capacity is simply cruel. Oh, and of course no one fed or gave him a drink him because what’s the big deal? It’s not like 3-year-old children get hungry or thirsty or anything. If a parent did this to their own child, child services would be knocking on the door the next day.
How’s that for a first day of school?
The bus company in question is Consolidated Bus Transit, a private company contracted by New York City. Earlier this year, Consolidated was in the news after a four-year old was left on a bus in the company’s parking lot after both the driver and the matron (a second person on the bus to keep an eye on younger children) neglected to check the bus for sleeping children. Both plead guilty just last week to child endangerment.
Normally, I wouldn’t use the same picture as The Daily News but take a look at that bus route. Who in their right mind thought that would be acceptable and how could they have taken five hours? Did they stop for lunch?
The Daily News quoted spokesman Peter Silverberg, “(We) encountered a number of routing issues in the start of the school year.”
Yeah, that’s one way of putting it. Here’s another:
My own son, Jordan takes the bus to school. He’s 4, autistic and nonverbal (also insanely sweet and adorable). His school is twenty minutes away by car and the bus company assigned to his school is the same Consolidated that kept Levi in a filthy diaper, thirsty and hungry, for hours. The first day of school for my son was Wednesday, Sept. 5th. Pick up time was listed as 7:30 AM. It seemed a bit early but I figured they were working out the exact timing of the route. 7:45 comes and goes. 8 o’clock come and goes. Now I’m on the phone to the bus company and the phone is busy busy busy!
I get through at 8:30 or so and no one can tell me what time the bus is coming but I’m assured they’re on their way! In another hour or so. Yes, I could drive my son to school but, as another gift from autism, he panics when I leave him at school. The bus is a perfect, and much-needed, transition between home and school. Because of this, I’m very hesitant to take him in and it’s a good thing I didn’t; the bus company got the first day of school wrong. They thought it was Thursday instead of Wednesday.
Yes, you read that correctly: Consolidated Bus Transit, whose entire job is to pick up and drop off students, did not know what the first day of school was.
Accordingly, school was canceled. Since by the time the school realized what the bus company had done, it was too late to call all the parents. This was a mild inconvenience to me since I’m a stay at home parent but what about the parents that work? How many of them had to call out of work at the last-minute or spend unplanned-for money on daycare? The sheer incompetence is mind-boggling.
But it gets worse if you can believe it.
On Thursday, the “new” first day of school, the bus didn’t show up again. Shocking, I know. What was shocking is when I called the bus driver (we had gotten his personal phone number) directly. Apparently, he and all the other drivers and matrons are just standing in the company parking lot waiting for buses to show up.
Yeah, you read that correctly, too: the bus drivers had no buses.
This time I drove Jordan to school. As predicted, he flipped out. Very conducive to an environment of learning and nurturing. At least school was actually open, not that this did parents without a car any good.
However, bus company was there in the afternoon and the school did put him on a bus to come home. They told me his arrival time would be about 2:45. I didn’t believe that for a second. I mentally tagged on an extra 30 minutes since it was obvious that the bus drivers had not practiced their routes beforehand. Remember, this is their entire job and they knew what students would be getting picked up and where they lived for weeks prior to the start of school. You would think they might do a few dry runs to work the kinks and timing out. Nope! They didn’t bother.
They don’t even have GPS on the buses. Because, who needs one of those?
Jordan finally arrived home at 4 o’clock and that’s when I found out he’d been sitting on a bus without air conditioning in 82 degree weather and closed windows for an hour and a half. Jordan is a polar bear; he ignores the cold but wilts in the heat. He was flushed, sweaty and obviously thirsty with dry, cracked lips. Not that he could tell the matron whose job it is to safeguard the children that since, as I said, he’s nonverbal. I’m amazed I didn’t punch the driver in the face.
I imagine the only thing that kept Levi’s parents from clawing the driver’s eyes out was their relief that their child was home.
The Daily News also listed two useful resources for NYC parents having difficulties with busing:
New York Parents Fed Up With Transportation Troubles
Parents To Improve School Transportation (or PIST, say it out loud)
It would be bad enough to do this to neurotypical kids but to autistic and other handicapped children? Unconscionable.
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