A Dartmouth couple says Metro Transit’s response to concerns about how their autistic son was treated while riding a bus has been “deplorable," and they want to talk to the public transit authority about how to better deal with special needs riders.
“They haven’t contacted us at all,” David Croft, father of eight-year-old Izaak, said Thursday. Izaak is one of several children participating in a summer day camp put on by the Autism Society of Nova Scotia.
Camp leaders told Croft that Izaak was kicked off the bus Wednesday while the group was on their way back from The Discovery Centre in Halifax because the driver was frustrated with his screaming.
“The bus driver said that he couldn’t drive the bus with that kid screaming,” Croft said, emphasizing he wasn’t there but learned of the day’s events from the camp director, who accompanied Izaak off the bus.
Croft said Izaak’s screaming was “likely a response to sensory stimuli.”
“He just gets overwhelmed by something in his environment, because he’s mostly non-verbal,” he explained.
Metro Transit spokeswoman Lori Patterson said Thursday a surveillance video shows the driver did say “I can’t drive if that continues,” but denied Izaak was ever kicked off the bus.
“The counsellor took it upon himself to go back, get the child and get off the bus.”
Patterson called the whole situation “unfortunate.” She said Metro Transit did leave a message with the Crofts but hadn’t spoken with them yet Thursday.
Croft, however, said his wife was the one who called a Metro Transit supervisor Wednesday evening.
“I am looking for an apology, but more importantly I’m looking for a discussion,” said Croft, who along with his wife, Charlene, is involved in Artists for Autism.
Patterson said the driver is responsible for “the care and control” of their bus, adding “any time that there’s a disruption that they perceive can interfere with the safe operation of the vehicle, they can say something.”