School Bus Aide Arrested for Breaking Arm of 5-Year-Old Boy With Autism

Horrifying 64

A school bus attendant in New York has been arrested for breaking the arm of a 5-year-old boy with autism while trying to discipline him on the bus. 

According to Connor's mom, the boy was doing something any child -- with or without autism -- often does: He was swinging his feet and kicking the seat in front of him.

The bus driver, Richard Mason, 39, allegedly became upset by his behavior and, according to police, attempted to discipline Connor by grabbing his arm and pulling it behind his back. Connor's mother says doctors think the use of excessive force and being "tied down" explains why his abdomen was also bruised. She claims that her child was so scared he urinated in his pants, a thought that easily breaks the heart of every parent reading this. 

But Mason says he had to restrain Connor because the child was pounding his hand against the window and the aide feared he would shatter the glass. I'm guessing there were no cameras on the bus, which is going to make this case really difficult to judge. 

I'm going to reserve judgment until we learn more about this case, but I can't get one burning question out of my brain: teachers in general education classes would be burned at the stake for putting their hands on children in order to discipline them. For better or worse, they're more or less told to let children kill each other before stepping in. I don't agree with this, nor do most of my teacher friends, but I understand the legal reasons behind it.

Taking this approach in a class with students with special needs is not always possible because some students can't control their physical reactions to situations that upset them and they may try to hurt themselves. But special education teachers and paraprofessionals are -- or damn well should be -- trained to handle the population they teach in a way that both prevents problems from occurring and keeps kids safe when things do happen. We don't know the details yet about whether Mason was trained to handle students with autism, but the fact that this is even a question is a problem. All school aides who deal with children with special needs should be provided the same training as teachers and paras.  

What do you think about this case? 


Image via Bill McChesney/Flickr

autism, back to school, behavior, boys, discipline, driving, education, elementary school, in the news, kid health, safety, special needs


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Brain... BrainyMommy

The aide is so screwed. He's black and the kid is white. Doesn't take a genius to figure out how this is gonna go down. With that said, it takes a lot of force to break someone's arm, the aide is lying. There's much more to this story than what he's telling.

Chana... Chanandler.Bong

Abuse of special needs children is becoming more common in classrooms and on buses. This story just further shows that surveillance cameras are necessary in classrooms and buses where special needs children are being taught and taken to school. Even if the child was hitting the glass, school buses have thick glass that is very difficult to break, especially by a child as young as 5. This story makes me sad, and emphasizes the importance of autism awareness, education, and training by those so work with these kids.

keelh... keelhaulrose

Brainymommy, I would think the aide is screwed because a five year old had a broken arm, not because of the color of anyone's skin.

I've worked with individuals with special needs, including autism. There's a right way to restrain to stop destructive behavior and a wrong way, and if you do it right there's no chance of a broken arm.

keelh... keelhaulrose

Most school workers that work with this population of kids go through training so you can do physical restraints and get yourself out of a physical situation. It's not that the kids will never be touched, but there are safe methods that I've used on 250 pound adults to success.

Kimberly A. Phillips

Okay first of all , the bus driver disciplined the child and hurt him or an aid ??? The story and first pararaph imply the Aide did it , but the rest of the story is all about the bus driver, Richard Mason doing it. The aide is the one that should be dealing with the kids and should have some training. there should be cameras on these buses !! All of our buses now have them and I'm in the little state of Delaware not NYC. ALSO this isn't a Black / White issue , this is an ABUSE/ASSAULT issue ! Was he swinging his feet ? Was he kicking the seat ? Yes that might be annoying and maybe damage the seat, if this happens the parents pay for it , or the bus company's insurance pays for it. Was it hurting someone else ? was this child putting himself in danger ?? When did the head banging on the window start ?? If a child in a full care facility ends up with a broken arm they are in big trouble , any restraint given should of been by someone trained to do so. If it was a normal kid kicking the seat and wouldn't stop would it of been handled the same way ? We've all been around a kid kicking the back of the seat, baseball game, movie theatre, church, not excusing it but how many arms have you broken ??  If you can't get a child or your bus under control then pull over and call for help. I don't think it matters what was going on , it sounds like someone lost their temper and broke an arm, even worse that it was a disabled child !

Sandra Jd Mears

Just had to switch my daughter with autism to another bus cause the bus drive picked her up because she was not in the right assign seat and when she picked her up she picked her up over top another kid and made my daughter who is five hit her head on the top of the bus so I feel this mother even tho my daughter was not hurt as bad as this little boy I swear these bus drivers that are gonna be dealing with our children with special needs or our children without need to be trained how to deal with them and im sorry you don't put a kids arm behind his back and cause bruising to his adomin cause he was kicking his feet or even hiting his head against the window for that matter

nonmember avatar NoWay

It takes a lot of force to break a child's bones ... this makes me sick. I have a son with autism and I can't even imagine what I would do ... :-(

Cynthia McMillan

This is complete and udder bull. This driver had no right to put his hands on this kid at all in the first place. Someone needs to scare him so bad he shits his pants

Cynthia McMillan

My son has Autism and if this was my kid I cant say what I would do.  He is so defensless and there are people like this in the world.  Plus this idoit works with special needs children?  Thats is why my husband and I are very weary of who we trust with our son, overprotective?  Hells Yea!!!

hexxuss hexxuss

Went & read the linked article - the boy sustained bruising to his abdomen & face but was pounding his HAND on the window, NOT his head.  There is NO WAY there should be enough force to break this boy's arm.  The pants wetting could've very well been from the pain when his arm broke too, but the whole story is horrifying...  I had a bus driver removed from my son's bus because he was yelling at OTHER kids all the time.  With my son being Autistic, he's very sensitive to noises - he told me that the bus driver & helper didn't yell at HIM 'very much', but he sure did yell at another boy ALL the time.  The other boy is non-verbal, so I called it in & they investigated (video) and the driver & helper were moved to NON special needs kids.

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