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January 2011



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June 17th, 2010 6:44 am

By Heather Sedlock

Two autistic boys, living in New South Wales, Australia, were dumped on the side of the road by their taxi driver on June 3rd, 2010. The taxi was part of a program that gives special needs children rides to and from school where taxi companies are paid by a government agency. The boys were age 11 and 8.
Their mother was at home waiting for her 7 year old daughter (not autistic) to come home on the regular school bus. Her oldest son (age 12 with an Autism Spectrum Disorder) was waiting inside. The cab driver pulled up, without the boys, and informed the mother that her children were dropped off, where they were dropped and that they can walk home. The mother was obviously furious and then demanded that the taxi driver take her to where he dropped the boys off at.

The driver did so, but then left mother there with her sons to race back to the house as her oldest son was the only one home and her daughter would have been worried not seeing her mom at the house when she got off the bus. Luckily for the family, the boys and the taxi driver, the boys were unharmed. However, their parents are still outraged that not only did this happen but that the taxi driver got “just a slap on the hand.”

Their father, Vince Steele, recently reached out via Facebook with a note that detailed what had occurred asking his friends and family to write the taxi company. This was not the first time the drivers had acted out against his sons. The response was overwhelming and it seemed now that the taxi company was going to take him seriously. Mr. Steele agreed to an interview with Examiner.

Examiner: Tell me about your boys.

Mr. Steele:
One of them is 11 yeasr old, barely verbal, and diagnosed with intellectual impairment, but we suspect ASD as he gets older, and 8 year old (almost 9) with classic tiptoeing hand flapping autism. No sense of stranger danger for the youngest, also barely verbal. He will happily yell out a big “HI” to any stranger and would be an easy target for predators if left without adequate adult supervision. Has no sense of direction other than what he can see in his immediate environment.

Examiner: What happened in the first incident? When was it?

Mr. Steele: First incident was a couple of months or so ago. Our 12 year old son (ASD: high functioning) was picked up from his special needs school by a taxi driver who decided he couldn’t sit in the front seat due to safety issues. Our boy was always allowed by other drivers to travel in the front, so he didn’t understand why he suddenly had to sit in the back. The driver lost patience with his protests and ended up so agitating our son, who was in the back of the cab cowering in fear for the trip. When the driver got to our house, he threw open the door, and yelled out to his mother to “GET THIS F***ING KID OUT OF MY TAXI”. He then started shouting at her. I was waiting for our then-6 year old daughter’s school bus across the road. So I went over to the taxi driver and tried to explain about Autism and simply got shouted at. I naturally became angry myself and we had a shouting match. I eventually told him to never take my son in his taxi ever again and he drove off with the huffs. I phoned the taxi company and the receptionist simply told me that “Taxi drivers have melt downs occasionally too”. I emailed the company and one of the directors came to do the school run the next morning so he could get our version of events. By the afternoon, I’d received a phone call stating that the driver had recommended our transport privileges be revoked and that video footage showed me making a fist and us both shouting at each other, but there was conveniently no sound, so we were told the driver would be restricted to not conveying our children. I mentioned I was worried this could happen to other special needs children on the run and was told that because we were both making accusations of each other, they were going to leave things the way it had just been put to me. In other words, he still got to do special needs school runs, just not for our children.

Read in Full:  http://www.examiner.com/special-needs-kids-in-national/autistic-children-dumped-mid-trip-to-walk-home-by-a-taxi-driver

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