Students with special needs often become side-lined in measures to ensure child safety in schools, mainly in school bus transportation.
While the safety measures tend to generalize the needs of all the students under one umbrella and when efforts on safety compliance are implemented, these children receive the last loaf.
Some might be wondering if there is any justifiable need to differentiate the safety measure efforts adopted in the majority of the children and those geared for specially-challenged children.
Of course, there are!
Here are some key points that school authorities, transport managers, school bus drivers, school bus attendants must know.
1. Normally, giving special provisions can isolate the special needs children from other children. However, if the situation warrants the need for one, like the use of a wheelchair for the physically challenged children, then it might be wise to accommodate the use of one.
Support from the staff and other kids can help them to build their confidence even though they are treated differently.
2. Teach safety rules on school bus transportation but it requires a little effort and concern from the teachers and parents alike. Game videos and mock traffic parks might not always work for them.
Teachers can instead opt to teach them simple rules customised for their learning styles and patterns. Peer learning is another tried and tested method which has proved successful in many instances.
3. A simple change in approach of the staff can formulate better school bus transportation for these kids. With the help of appropriate training, communication method of school bus staff can be altered to suit the needs and connect better with them.
It would be ideal for school authorities to incorporate lessons on transportation safety for children with special needs. And these lessons can also be included in the general training of drivers and support staff on traffic rules and regulations.
4. Making use of postural supports while travelling in a school bus should be encouraged, especially if they improve the child’s seated posture, as this will also perk up the fit and effectiveness of seat belts.
5. Special needs children face various upsetting situations. However, the general approach of the society towards these kids is accommodating and appreciative. It would be wiser to train the staff on providing special care for such children.
Apart from the school bus staff, other students should also be taught to respect and treat these children with empathy. Keeping an eye contact with such kids make communication easier.
Simply kneel down when needed to maintain eye contact and you can witness the difference.
6. If any liquid oxygen is being transported in the school bus then it should be safely mounted to avoid damage and excessive heat.
7. Children with special needs tend to be confident when they do their chores independently. However, things differ while on a school bus. Consider, for instance, a physically challenged student need assistance of the driver while on the school bus.
It might be impossible for them to approach the driver or supporting staff on a moving vehicle. In such cases, having a personal aide to these children in school transportation is advisable. Peer support and buddies can also be utilized to overcome such situations.
8. Plastic or metal trays and lapboard which are attached to the wheelchair ought to be removed before loading the child and need to be held separately for safe transportation.
9. Communication is an important factor while transporting children with special needs. The tone, language and the mannerism all need to be adjusted to accommodate the physical and emotional needs of such children.
For example, children with vision, hearing or cognitive difficulties might need special assistance to have the instructions clear.
Talking to such children will not help in any way. The support staff should be able to connect with these children with their tone, language and behaviour.
Instructions on school bus safety rules should be conveyed to these children in a simple and easy manner so that they can understand it easily. Step by step instructions will prove helpful. You can also use images and gestures to teach them for faster communication.
“Disability need not be an Obstacle to Success.”