Behavior challenges on board school buses are nothing new, but they certainly seem to be worsening in recent years. And that’s on general routes.
School buses that are dedicated to transporting students with disabilities, and the drivers and attendants who manage them, have seen a drastic increase in behavior issues. This mirrors the latest data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which estimates the prevalence of children who are diagnosed with autism is 1 in 59. And that was in 2018, still a nearly threefold increase since 2004. Updated information is expected this spring.
Meanwhile, educators nationwide have also witnessed a rise in students suffering from emotional disturbances, who are more inclined than other students in special education programs to face long-term suspension, expulsion, or to drop-out of school. Dealing with these issues is bad enough in a classroom but even worse in the long, narrow, moving tube of a school bus.
Student transporters who seek tools to help them navigate these behavioral issues and more can turn to the TSD Conference, held March 20-25 in Frisco, Texas. This year’s education includes a March 21 session taught by Amy Tiedens, the transportation coordinator for Intermediate District 287 in Plymouth, Minnesota, on implementing Positive Behavior Intervention and Supports and creating behavior plans for a transportation environment.
The following morning, autism expert Patrick Mulick takes the general session stage to create a “home field advantage” for transporters, by providing resources and strategies to help them and their most vulnerable students win on the bus.
Then in the afternoon, a special session sponsored by First Student introduces attendees to Dr. Allison Blackburn of Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. The behavioral psychologist works with students with developmental disabilities, and helps develop behavioral intervention tools and techniques.
Another school psychologist, Dr. Adam Saenz, speaks at the general session on the morning of March 23 to provide “Mental Health First Aid on the School Bus.” He brings emotional intelligence strategies to the table to help student transporters understand and respond to mental illness, so they can create a safe environment for both their students and themselves.
The learning doesn’t end there, as behavior is interwoven into the fabric of school bus transportation.