If you are hiring a minibus to take a group of children with asperger's syndrome or autism on a special field trip, it's important to keep their unique needs in mind when choosing and preparing the minibus. There are several tips that can make the experience better for everyone involved. Here are some points to consider:
1. Make sure emergency exits are equipped with audible alarms.
Autistic children have a high risk of wandering off, especially when compared to similar-aged peers. This means that you need to plan a lot of supervision while loading or unloading the bus, but you should also ensure that the emergency doors have alarms. That way, if a child tries to open the rear door of the bus while none of the chaperons are watching, an audible alarm will sound so that you can respond immediately.
2. Find a driver who is educated about autism.
Autistic children have a lot of unique behaviours, ranging from repeating the same word to humming to rocking in their chairs, and this behaviour can be distracting to some drivers. Ideally, you need a driver who is sensitive to the needs of Autistic children and who understands the basis of some of their coping mechanisms.
3. Consider reducing sensory stimulation in the minibus.
Many children with autism have difficulties with sensory processing. As a result, some environments are overstimulating and uncomfortable for them. If you are worried about the bus being overstimulating for the children on the tour, consider making the odours, sights and sounds on the minibus less stimulating.
Talk with the minibus hire company about which cleaning products they use and ask if they can refrain from using scented window and floor cleaners, as these odours may bother some kids on the bus. Also, consider investing in sun shades to put on the windows to keep glaring light away from the kids on the bus. Finally, if there is a speaker on the bus, don't play loud music or make loud announcements; instead, try to keep excess noise to a minimum.
4. Plan the route in advance and let the kids know.
Many kids who on are the autism spectrum enjoy consistency. They like to know what is going to happen and when, and they may get anxious when confronted with surprises. To eliminate this potential source of stress, plan a route in advance with the bus driver and let the kids know about it. While some kids may be indifferent, others will find the info to be a source of solace. However, once you've shared the route, you shouldn't deviate from it, as that can be very anxiety inducing for some kids.