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Boy with autism slapped by school bus aide

A Florida mom is demanding answers after viewing a video of a school bus aide repeatedly striking her son Jeffrey, a 10-year-old with autism.

Caregiver abuse is one of the worst fears of any parent, and it’s a fear felt keenly by parents of children with special needs. Lori Lamb was shown footage of a 57-year-old man repeatedly slapping her son in the face. He can be heard crying out in fear and pain.

Abuse at the hands of a trusted adult

When an incident like this happens with a public school employee who’s been working in school transportation for over 20 years, how do we put our kids on the bus in the morning without fear? How do we send our kids to school or summer camp? We teach our children that they can trust caregivers, but 18 percent of children with autism have been physically abused.

This morning I dropped my son off at his first day of camp. As with any new child care situation, I took a few moments to fill out medical paperwork and inform the supervisor that my son has special needs and a life-threatening allergy. He has a mild form of autism and tends to thrive in a structured camp setting. He’s been riding the bus to school for two years without incident beyond his driver ruefully admitting that he can be a little annoying to his seatmates.

I can’t imagine dealing with abuse at the hands of someone trusted with the care of young children — especially abuse of a child who is unable to communicate exactly what happened. In this case, the school bus aide has been arrested and charged with child abuse. How can we ensure that those who work with our children have the training and patience required to discipline children appropriately?

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