DETROIT (WXYZ) — We often talk about videos that go viral on social media, but when it’s your own kids and they’re facing a possible health crisis, it can be disconcerting to watch.
That’s what happened to a substitute teacher in Detroit when someone recorded a video of her severely autistic son screaming for help on the school bus. Now she wonders what caused what. We must warn you that this video is disturbing.
Imagine a mother who is horrified to learn that the video you saw on social media was not just about your child and that no authorities had alerted you that it happened on a school bus.
“My family, we found out through social media that this was a video that was going viral on Facebook,” said mum Talysha Oldham.
Six-year-old Adriel Oldham was returning from school by bus. Another kid on the bus recorded video of what happened. It appears that Adriel was held down by the bus driver as she screamed.
“When he got home, the bus driver told me he couldn’t take my car anymore, he couldn’t take my car, he had to find another mode of transport,” Oldham said.
Oldham, a substitute teacher in Detroit for 10 years and a former teacher in the Detroit Public Schools community district, was shocked when the video started circulating on social media. Adriel’s father told her it was their little boy, his legs screaming in the air.
“The first thing I heard was my son screaming and then I could see the woman sitting on top of my son and hitting him,” Oldham said.
His mother said he could barely speak.
“He can tell you his basic needs, whether he’s hungry or has to go to the bathroom, but he can’t tell you if he’s hurt or if someone has done something to him,” Oldham explained.
This happens in November 2021. Oldham went to her son’s school twice in the same week for meetings to discuss Adriere’s behavior and his Individualized Education Plan (IEP) to ensure his disability is properly cared for.
“Have you seen him break down?” WXYZ’s Carolyn Clifford asked.
“I’ve seen him have a nervous breakdown, yes, but it’s easy for us to correct because he’s in therapy every week,” Oldham said.
She also said there were usually only a few children on the bus when her son was being picked up or dropped off. But on this day, there seemed to be a lot of kids on the bus.
Oldham said the bus driver told her he attacked her on the bus.
After getting off the bus, the bus driver made no mention of what happened on the way home.
“Even though she was having a tough time with him, she could have handled it differently,” Oldham said. “She could have pulled the bus over, she could have called the dispatcher and let them know she had a problem.”
We reached out to the Detroit Public Schools community the same week this happened.
They quickly sent us a letter saying that the bus driver and her assistant were not employed by DPS but worked for a separate contract bus service and they could no longer transport DPSCD students.
Here’s what it says:
The school district is aware of the incident and the video circulating through social media. Both the bus driver (employee of the bus company) and the attendant (employee of the school district) have been removed from service to DPSCD students and the school pending an investigation into the incident.
Chrystal Wilson, Detroit Public Schools Community District Assistant Superintendent
“The bus driver and assistant are gone. Does that give you some comfort?” Clifford asked.
“When you’re working with children, especially children with disabilities, you should be trained,” Oldham said.
Oldham lodged a police report, after which she transferred her son to another school. They have seen several doctors to make sure he is not injured and has no lingering problems. Now, he is homeschooled.
“What more do you want to see?” Clifford asked.
“I want to see legal action and I want to bring charges against her,” Oldham said.
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