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Kim Stagliano on HuffPo: Assault and Autism. This Time It's My Child. Is Yours Next?

School-bus-stop-color By Kim Stagliano

Our nine year old was (allegedly) assaulted on her school bus by a 24 year old bus monitor. She has been charged with several counts.  In addition, the driver (who happens to be the monitor's mother) was caught on tape texting while driving the bus. Charges against her are pending. Please comment at HuffPo HERE.  Neither my husband nor I can comment further on this case, as it's just proceeding now. However, we think it's important for people to know how vulnerable our kids are, and why we fight so hard for them. Thanks.

All I Can Handle Small Kim Stagliano is Managing Editor of Age of Autism. Her book from Skyhorse Publishing, All I Can Handle I'm No Mother Teresa; A Life Raising Three Daughters with Autism is available now for preorder and debuts November 1st. Visit her website at Kim Stagliano.

Comments

Carolyn M

Kim,

I am very sorry that this happened to your daughter. Thank goodness for video cameras.

I hope that those responsible for huritng her get absolutely everything that they deserve.

bensmyson

I think one of the hardest things to swallow when this happens is there is no punishment to fit these crimes. I mean how do we know what our children are thinking, how it affects them, how they processed it, experienced it? How long will it last in their mind?

To me justice is when the victim knows the perpetrator is held accountable. Since it is unlikely our children understand the justice system I believe the penalty should be harsher. My son will never receive satisfaction his abuser was sentenced to whatever, instead he will wonder why I dropped him off at school everyday.

A@T

My heart goes out to you Kim, My nine year old daughter found my 5 year old son with autism wandering in the front door of the school this morning totally unattended. God has blessed me with an angel of a daughter, she took his hand and led him to his classroom and handed him off to his teacher. His IEP dictates he is to be handed from a bus attendant to his one on one aid and is to be taken by the hand off the bus. This is the second major infraction and there is going to be hell to pay this time. I'm sick of the incompetence and excuses. The last time Sam ran off he bus and away from grandma and right into oncoming traffic. The bus driver literally dived from the bus and sprinted to save Sam. Every one was quite shook up and the apologies were sincere. They just didn't understand what they were dealing with- I mean who runs AWAY from grandma?? Apparently, considering today's incident, they just can't comprehend what the F*** autism is and I have to face the fact that my son is not safe at school. Jesus-please help us..

Doug Stables

Hi Kim,in time these so called people will get

their just deserts Karma, they have big big

problems, and nothing between the ears,

let alone a heart, very nasty dispicable

people, all the best, you and your kids,

are going to come through this stronger,

all the best Doug.

rileysmom

What happened to sweet Bella is my biggest fear for my Riley. He is also non verbal and can not tell anyone if someone were abusing him. He can not defend himself. When I read this story, I started bawling. Just drop dead crying. I thought I was having a heart attack. My husband came running from the bedroom because he hadn't seen yet. I couldn't even read what happened to Bella to him...he had to read t himself. He wrapped his arms around me and said, "That hits close to home doesn't it? How absolutely horrible for that sweet baby." I then pulled up a pic of Bella and he said, "She has the same blue eyes as Riley." What happened to Bella actually caused me pain and I'm not her momma. I can only sympathize and let you know that I can somewhat feel YOUR pain.
Nail that nasty snatch to the fullest extent of the law. The bus driver too. The bus driver allowing this to happen, the original bus driver and the sub, is not excusable.
Please give Bella a hug and love from a me.
Boy did they pick the wrong kid to screw with...didn't they realize who Bella's mom is??? One of the biggest autism advocates in the country???

Amy A. D.

This story is terrible. Cameras are a very good idea. Bus monitors are not very well paid, so the job rarely attracts those who are qualified to help children with disabilities during their most difficult time of day...transition.

Jake Crosby

I've had my share of lousy bus monitors - none of whom, however, compare to this. I wish you and your daughter all the best, Kim, in dealing with this monstrous hate crime.

-Jake

Luau

You have my family's unwavering support!

Claudine

Kim,
I am deeply sorry. My heart aches for Bella and your entire family. You are all in my prayers.
Fondly,
Claudine Liss

CT teacher

I am very sorry about this.

R Prasad

I agree with GrammaKnows. Real time functioning security cameras should be placed in all school related places (including buses, class rooms etc) where there is a special needs child. Because a special needs child cannot defend him/her self and cannot tell his/her side of story.

Julie Obradovic

Not sure what I can even say. I'm at a loss. And I'm so, so, sorry.

GrammaKnows

I'm so sorry that Bella and countless others are subject to victimization. Thank goodness you found out and can take the steps to protect her!

GrammaKnows

Functioning security cameras need to be placed on the busses and vans, in the classrooms, hallways, gymnasiums and playgrounds where our children are subject to the opportunity for abuse.

This requirement needs to be Federal, it needs to be part of the requirements to receiving Federal Education funding. Staff abuse, behind-the-teacher's-back bullying and all the unseen threats to our and other disabled children need to be viewed in the light of day and taken out of the shadows.

The training and screening of people who work with children and adults with disabilities is insufficient on every level - as is the payscale. As it stands right now, the taxpayer is the one permitting this situation to exist by neglecting to demand a higher standard.

We must insist our children, all children, as those who are not abused are subject to observation of abuse, be permitted safe harbor when in their schools and school supervised situations.

Elucidatus

Hi Kim,

I am sorry to hear about what happened to your daughter. This is going to sound silly and a bit late but was there any way that a bus aid could have been assigned on your daughter's route to avoid any bullying and mistreatment? I pray things go in your favor 100%.

Janet Sheehan

I have always wondered if the autistic children of those who are "famous"- doctors, authors, advocates, lawyers, etc. were treated better *just because* the teachers, bus drivers, therapists, etc. knew who the parents were. Guess being well-known and respected in your field does not make one child's immune to abusive behavior- this blows that theory right out of the water.

Karen M.

OMG Kim, I am so sorry. Sending prayers your way. I am afraid I would go berserk on the offender if I were in this situation. People are sick.

Dadvocate

Kim- So sorry to hear this. As you know from my many, many posts on autism safety, I have always hated buses. They are typically the weakest link in a "chain of control".

The fact that there was a video is actually a good thing and cameras should be mandatory on every special ed bus in the country. Why recording didn't act as a deterrent in this case is a mystery to me. Second, training, training, and more training is necessary for transportation aides and drivers. Third, whistleblower policies for each school district so retaliation isn't an issue for those who suspect or observe abusive behaviors. Lastly, a safety plan for every person (child or adult) with autism is a must.

www.autismsafetyproject.org

Donna L.

Kim, I am sickened and speechless. If this can happen to beautiful little Bella, not a single one of our kids is safe. My heart goes out to you and your family.

Jill Fenech

Kim - my heart goes out to you and your family. This is so sick. As if autism is not bad enough to deal with. What the hell is wrong with these people? They messed with the wrong mama. I am sending prayers your way.

Holly M.

This makes me want to drive the bus so that our kids are protected. I'm so sorry Kim.

Kent Adams

I hope this monitor goes to jail. Can you tell us if you had to push hard to see the tapes? I've heard school systems are reluctant to let anyone see these bus tapes.

Sue

Oh Kim I am so sorry. Our worst fears as parents of non-verbal children have come true for you. Your little girl is so lucky to have parents who realized there was a problem and acted to find the source and solve it. I hope those two women get the punishment they deserve. I totally agree with the commenter who said that anyone who would hurt a diables child should be treated by the system like a child preditor.

Kathy

Kim, hang in there ... all of you during this horrible time.

My son is going on a special ed van this fall. Should I be relieved there is no monitor? How do I assure his safety? Texting while driving? WTF? Should I opt to skip the public transportation even though I'm trying to foster independence and drive him myself? Like middle school isn't scary enough ... now I'm wondering will he even get there unscathed.

Kendra Pettengill

It is indeed a sad day a sad time all around. I am so sorry Kim that your entire family has to deal with this.
I think it is clear and perhaps has been for a while that while we know we need research and we know we need to help families and kids that cannot afford the best care, and we have all been fighting the good fight for health care for our children, but we also need to target our energies and finances to changing the laws in every state in the U.S. so that when we can prove abuse against children unable to speak for themselves, the punishments are swift and harsh.

This is necessary as we have seen too many times where somehow our children are viewed through a different lense. At times the abuse is actually institutionalized in the system, such as restraints. I am tired of hearing about raising funds for "Autism Awareness". Since so many try to tell us the epidemic is a result of better awareness, how much more aware can we be. How about awareness that our children are innocent human beings, beautiful children just like 'yours'. I believe there are millions of Americans that would be appalled, who are unaware, and would be shaken by this as much toward our children as they would be by such an act on a typical child. So this is the awareness we need.

I think Kim's call to shake them to their core is about this. We all need to work to change the laws in our own states, we need to direct our energies, resources, and more to change those laws that it is not somehow acceptable because of our children's conditions but actually even more heinous and unacceptable for that same reason.
We are an army, and we have acted as one before, it is time to do it again. It is time that any level of abuse against a disabled child is a felony. It is time to stop institutionalized abuse masking as control or prevention of self-injury or violence while behavioral plans or methods are ignored or refused to even be considered. It's time for a new Autism awareness...that our children are sitting ducks without laws to protect them and that we are living in a nation incapable and unwilling to deal with an epidemic that is about to come crashing down while they turn a blind eye.
We have to change the future for our kids because once again, no one else is going to do it because it's the right thing to do. We have to cry out in huge numbers, in no uncertain terms and without giving a single inch of compromise. For the sake of all the children it will take no less. THE AUTISM ARMY MUST MOVE NOW!!!! We need to plan a nationwide assault on a system that is willing to ignore our chilren to death.

Twyla

This is so terrible, and I join the chorus of sympathy and outrage. Good for you and your husband that you insisted on seeing the video and are taking action.

Sabeeha Rehman

Kim, I am so sorry to hear about this awful incident. Is your daughter ok? Are you o.k.? Hugs. Sabeeha

Teresa Conrick

Kim,

I'm so terribly sorry and sickened by this. Like vaccines, the issue of safety is the responsibility of this company. First Student hired these 2 people and it was wrong and dangerous.

Hugs to Bella and to you all as you heal from such a horrible experience. May you find comfort in all of your family, friends and 2nd family here at Age of Autism.

Dolly

I am so saddened for your daughter, you and your family. It is hard to imagine someone purposely trying to hurt a child. I can't find any words disgusting enough to describe the kind of person who could do that.
We can only hope that girl and her mother get the help they need and are never in a position to be around children again.
It must have been a difficult film to watch, but I am so glad it was caught on film. God bless......

DAN fan

I'm sick.

I'll be praying for jail time for the criminal who harmed your beautiful, innocent child.

Renee Gast

This is unfair. Now I know what you meant, Kim. I want to be a special needs driver again but family business obligations prevent it. I would love to provide that service again to parents like us that appreciate it and to kids that deserve it. I have never, and would never hurt those kids. I would cry when I saw them struggle with life and I would cry when they turned 21 and got the educational boot. Those kids meant the world to me. And I've never had a bus monitor to help me. I'm so sorry kim.

Media Scholar

It's simply stupefying that the Huffington Post would not allow Kim's article to be posted here.

Stupefying.

Kristine

My blood is boiling.... How can we ever know? I have a pre-verbal child too. I'm not even sure there are cameras on his school bus. Certainly I am checking now. I know there are not cameras at school.

Lila White

This is awful Kim. At least they have her on tape. When my son was pushed down the bleachers at school, the excuse was that "no one witnessed it" and that "Mark is clumsy and could have fallen by himself". How about my son has Asperger's and doesn't lie!!! Isn't it bad enough that our kids have autism without these sickos making them their targets for bullying?

Chris O'Connell

Some one would have to physically restrain me from beating the living hell out of anyone who would hurt my little girl. I honestly don't think I could control myself if this ever happened to my daughter. What sick, ignorant assholes. So sorry to hear this about your daughter Kim. I read this hours ago and I'm still choked up about it. Please know you are in my thoughts.

Chris O'Connell
McKinney, Texas

Theresa O

How heartbreaking. There is no way to make something like this truly right, but I do hope that some justice can be done in court.

It also seems to me that a civil suit is not unreasonable--the school district had a videocamera on board the bus, yet didn't review the tapes in a timely enough manner to stop this atrocity after the first time it occurred.

I hope that your family finds healing, Kim, after you kick the necessary amount of a**. It must be hard to share this information, but I'm sure families everywhere are grateful that you did, because you just might have caused another school district to take more care of the kids entrusted to them.

Kristin B

I am so sorry to hear this happened to your daughter. Our kids who cannot speak are easy targets for these monsters. Go get her Kim and know you have the fury of this entire community behind you!

Kelli Ann Davis -- HUGS TO BELLA

My Comment on HuffPost:

In a nutshell:

To First Student Bus Company -- you think you know the meaning of "a mother's fury knows no bounds when protecting her child" -- think again.

Bottom Line: You just "messed" with the wrong mom.

Go get 'em Kim. And take no prisioners. Bella deserves at least that. And know, I'm right behind you cheering you on.

Kelli

Hugs to you Kim and your angels -- especially Bella!

K Fuller Yuba City

I can not go back to work. Ever. I drive my boy wherever he needs to be. I can't stop everything that happens when he is out of my sight, but I can try. We are here. We will write letters. We will make phone calls. What ever you need. I can't imagine how you are staying strong. Make her pay. I hope there is fitting justice and jail time for her.

Katie

So incredibly frightening and enraging. This is a worst nightmare for parents and children that aren't able to advocate for themselves. My heart goes out to you and your Bella. Thanks for all you do, Kim. I'm so glad that you have a platform to advocate for stricter controls for special children, and are such a fighter for your babies. Anyone else, and it may have gone on unnoticed.

Mary

Tears. So very sad. Is this why she pinches your arms? Wasn't that one of your tweets?

What an evil world.

Tami

These people who take jobs working with our kids- only to abuse them- need treated like registered sex offenders- because they are very clearly in the same class of predators. Sorry is not a good enough word, but I am sooooo sorry you're family had to go thru this.

JessicaF

Prayers for your family. Sick, disgusting, vile piece of human garbage. This is all of our worst nightmares, and exactly what I told my sons kindergarten teacher last week when I explained why he has a full-time aide shadow him at school. Because I don't TRUST you not to hurt him and him to be able to tell me about it.

Not an MD

Wow, Kim. I am so sad that your beautiful daughter was so tormented by that evil bus monitor and her bus driver mother (who did not report on the activities of her daughter) not just once, but on multiple occasions. I think that monitor needs a good psychiatric workup to determine why she takes such pleasure in hurting a child with autism, and has such angst. From the referenced videotape of the monitor, it is clear she has nothing but contempt for your child and for you. I hope she gets jail time. What a sociopath! Kim, I hope you and your husband will give these two women the "respect" they deserve. Go get 'em.

Cindy Keenan

This is truly sickening and heartbreaking. I'm so sorry, Kim. I pray justice will prevail and most importantly, that your daughter will heal from this horrible trauma.

TannersDad Tim Welsh

From Highs to Lows, Autism Families Never have a day of rest. I am sitting here crying, so grateful for an awesome event for Tanner last night & yet so sad for your beautiful daughters Kim. Tell me where the Armory is because if I carried a big stick before it just got a lot bigger. Warrior is not a strong enough word. Passionate Loving Dedicated Families are behind you. Tonight We Pray... The Battle begins anew. TannersDad Tim

Benedetta

I commented on Huff.
But I just want to say it here too.

This 24 year old rocked your foundations first ~ now go rock hers!

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