with author Jackie Morgan MacDougall
child with autism goes missing, left at wrong bus stop
Only a couple of days into the school year, a 5-year-old boy was misplaced by a school bus driver in Georgia. According to Lisa Belkin at The Huffington Post, kindergartener Harrison Antone was dropped off at the wrong stop, after a teacher put the wrong ID tag on him when leaving school.
The good news... two teenagers discovered the boy wandering through an apartment complex parking lot and took him to an adult. She checked Harrison's backpack and found his mother's phone number and gave her a call.
Can you even imagine?
Louise Sattler can. A nationally certified school psychologist, Louise works with special needs children and their families every day. I reached out to not only get her thoughts on Harrison's scary scenario, but for tips to protect our kids before they get on the bus. She says the first thing we need to recognize is how lucky Harrison is, due to smart thinking. "Bravo to the teens who stepped up and showed the community what is RIGHT with kids these days!," Louise said. "They saw another person in distress and sought help. This truly is a life lesson for adults who often speak negatively of teens these days."
But before the teens used their good sense to ask for help, Harrison's mom actually did something right that contributed to his positive outcome—she provided identification in her son's backpack, a move many parents haven't even considered. Louise believes, "all parents should place on their young children, multiple forms for identifications. And for those children with special needs who are non-verbal, there are visual coded ID patches or wristbands.
But Louise says the best defense is a good offense, there needs to be a plan in place. "Why was a child with special needs not dropped off directly in to the care of a supervising adult?," Louise asked. "To keep our kids with special needs safe, additional bus safety begins with the staff and educating them on the types of children that are in their care and the needs of these children."
What tips would you give for families new to sending kids on the school bus? Leave your thoughts in the comments.
Louise Sattler is a Nationally Certified School Psychologist, Founder of both Signing Families and 411 VOICES. She contributes to Education.com and often speaks nationally on helping children with special challenges.