The below advice to parents of Autistic children about their child’s transport could be useful to drivers in understanding some of the triggers for stress to these children which in turn could make the whole journey more difficult for all concerned. Some of these things could have a simple remedy, but unless enlightened, many of us are unaware.
Distance from home is always a big consideration; will your child need transport? How long will they be on the transport? Who is the driver, the escort? Try and arrange prior to the start of school for your child to meet them.
Look inside the bus and get a general feel for the space. Look at the colour of the bus, seats, floor, walls etc. How many seats? Is the fabric noisy, itchy, soft etc? Look at the steps to get inside, the noise of the engine, is there an air freshener? Check the smell in the bus, the aftershave of the driver, the escort. Autistic children have very sensitive senses so smells can be distressing to them. Do they play the radio in the bus and will this affect your child?
Autistic children are very sensitive, so all of these factors will need to be taken into account as well as where they are on the collection list. Who will already be in the bus? Who is collected next, and so on?
Establish the bus rules, try out the seat belts, will you need to buy something soft to wrap around the belt if the fabric is hard, will it rub your autistic child’s skin? Will your child be seated next to the window? Who will be seated next to them?
Find out about the homeward journey. What time will they leave school? In what order are the children dropped? Is it going to be the same driver etc?
Ask what happens when the driver or escort are on holiday or away? Who will replace them? Will you get prior notice so that you can explain the change to your child? Autistic children like things to remain the same so a simple thing like a different driver or seat could cause anxiety and stress.