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Mom says Halton bus driver assaulted her autistic son

Christian Drennan. 12, was allegedly abused by his bus driver. Courtesy of the Owens family.

The mother of a 12-year-old autistic boy fought to have a Halton bus driver charged for allegedly swearing at her son and slapping his hand in late November.

Halton police initially closed the case, but an assault charge was eventually laid after police spoke to several witnesses aboard the bus.

But the boy’s mother, Tasha Owens, says she’s been told the Crown is planning on dropping the charge.

“She called him an eff-ing retard,” an angry Owens told CityNews. “(And) slapped his hands away.”

“If I would have done that to her, I would have been charged.”

The bus driver has denied any wrongdoing.

“The goal is not to see her go to jail,” Owens added. “But if there’s no repercussions then she can still drive a bus and be in charge of children.”

The alleged incident took place on Nov. 29, 2013. Owens said her son, Christian, opened a window on the bus, and when he didn’t respond to the driver’s demands to close it, she became angry and started yelling at him.

Christian, like many people with autism, does not react well to loud noises and began covering his ears and humming to himself.

Owens said the driver later slapped his hands.

The bus driver is normally in charge of a route that is made up of special needs children, including students with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and attention deficit disorder (ADD).

The students are dropped off at two different schools: Ascension Elementary School, and Frontenac Public School, which Christian attends.

“Because of Christian’s autism, we had no idea anything had happened,” Owens said.

“He didn’t seem agitated or anything after school.”

The next week, the school called her at home. Owens spoke to the vice-principal, who said the students were upset by what the driver had done to Christian.

Owens said she would have never known about the alleged incident if other children on the bus hadn’t told their principal at Ascension, who contacted officials at Frontenac.

The bus company wouldn’t comment except to say that the driver won’t be behind the wheel again until the case is resolved. If she happens to be convicted, she’ll be fired. If the charge is dropped, as expected, she could be back at work shortly.

Andrea Rodick will next appear in court on Feb. 26.