Last 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