Autistic 3-Year-Old's First Day of School Ends in Hellish 5-Hour Bus Ride Home

school busLast week was 3-year-old Levi Vidal's first day of school. It was surely one filled with much excitement and nervousness for him and his parents as first days typically are. Only his had a nightmare ending that they could have never imagined happening -- that should have never happened.

Instead of coming home on the school bus in a timely manner (his parents estimate the ride from Manhattan to Brooklyn should have taken about 40 minutes), he instead endured a hellish five-hour ride. While on board, he was given neither food nor a bathroom break, and he was terrified. Can you even imagine a 3-year-old forced to sit on a bus that long? Making matters even worse -- Levi is autistic.

His mother, Serena Vidal, described to the New York Daily News just how traumatic the experience was for him.

He was delirious, starving, and in his full diaper. It’s insane, heartbreaking. How can you treat kids like that?

The school bus company doesn't seem to have many answers besides just saying they often encounter problems during the beginning of the school year. That's so not good enough.

And Levi, tragically, isn't the only student to be affected. The paper found another autistic boy, 4-year-old Efraim Shapiro, who was forced to endure a three-hour bus ride last week in New York during which he urinated on himself twice and was "dropped off wet and shivering." Other complaints have been reported as well.

It's as heartbreaking as it is infuriating, and someone needs to do something to prevent it from happening again. It shouldn't happen to ANY child, but especially when it comes to children with special needs, who may not have the same coping skills as typical children, extra care really should be taken. And where was the humanity in this bus driver? Did he or she really not think a child would need food or a restroom after five hours? It's inexcusable any way you look at it.

It's frightening enough to put children who can't always speak up for themselves in the care of others, and it's stories like this that fuel all of our parenting fears and make us want to keep our children by our side always.

Has your child ever been in a scary situation like this?


Image via KB35/Flickr

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Cindy Jungenberg

TRy having a bus driver accuse your autistic child of going in his diaper and I get called at work to pick him up from school instead of getting dropped off at home and HIS DIAPER WASN'T EVEN DIRTY OR WET FOR THAT MATTER!!! I called the bus company and reported it and the bus driver apologizes to me on the phone that night. This happened three times to me and my son.

shell3m shell3m

really? you don't know a child is on your bus for 5 HOURS!!!  How fucking stupid can you be!!  And no food or bathroom breaks?!?  The bus drivers need to be fired and fired now!!!

Jeana Piland

why did it take 5 hours to take the kid home if it should of been only a 40 min trip what the hell see if that was my kid all hell would break loose he shouldn't of been on that bus neglected like that for 5 hours that was uncalled for and since it says this isn't the first time that driver needs disciplinary actions taken upon him/her to Asher that it don't happen ever again

shell3m shell3m

oh and add my oldest son is Autistic and last year the bus drivers helper put her hands on my son and I saw it and flipped the fuck out.  You bet your ass I was on the phone in a heartbeat and told the distric and school I was going to sue them for abuse!  she was gone the next day.   I hate stories like these!!

Randelle Pfost

Am I weird for thinking that these kids are way too young to be riding the bus alone anyway? 3 and 4 year olds riding a bus- what school are they going to? I know I am dwelling on it, but just the thought of putting my non-special needs four year old on a bus for a 40 minute ride is crazy. This is terrible, and shouldn't have happened, not trying to put the blame on the parents, just trying to get my head around it.

nonmember avatar gretta

Add this to my long list of reasons my children will never ride the bus if I can at all help it!!!

Judy Miteen

This is "ABUSE" & "NEGLECT" arrest them NOW!

Jessie Cuddleson

TOTALLY INEXCUSABLE behaviour on the part of the idiot bus driver-I would have sued the pants off of them-no food drink bathroom break-who takes a 5 hour school bus trip either-very strange-something is rotten in denmark here I so feel for that lil boy and his family. My heart goes out to them and someone need to be held accountable I too have a child with Autism who is only somewhat verbal and has a harness plus an E'A' that travels with him and he would have freaked and totally melted down after the first hour never mind 5 WOW-So disturbing to hear about-hope tht family doesn't stop till they get some answers and justice!

Jessie Cuddleson

To another mom's comments wondering why 3 and 4 year olds are on the bus-special needs children usually have to travel to schools farther from home to get the special classrooms and services they need. My son was 5 when he had to take school bus to a school that was about 30 minute bus ride in order to get the services he needed and I wasn't thrilled about this but you do it for your child or they lose out on certain services. Two years ago they had a mini bus accident when a driver bumped they're bus and it was other children that told the teacher's/school about what happened Durham Ways never called us parents to tell us what had happened and as for the school it wasn't till I called in in the p.m. as soon as I foud out then the principle told me what had happened and was going on-I so blasted the school and Durham Ways for not informing me and other parents-schools and bus companies so need to be held accountable for neglectful/harmful behaviours they inflict on our precious cargo-our children and the government needs to step in and help us fight for our children's rights/safety and well being!

nonmember avatar Kay

I'm with Randall... I would NEVER put my toddler (2-4yrs) on a school bus period. Special needs or not. Now my 5yr, not only will she stroll to the front of the bus and tell the driver who she is, where she should be and when, she'd also be able to give directions from the school. If a child can't assist themselves in the face of extreme stupidity, then they should still be getting dropped off. And I don't want to hear any BS about how the parent can't because of work, blah, blah, blah... oh well. Figure out whats most important to you and cater to that!

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