You do NOT keep an autistic 5-year-old awake by nudging her and saying her name loudly over and over again every time she starts to nod off. Actually, that’s not how you keep ANYONE awake.
Just because she can’t communicate verbally doesn’t mean you have to have to repeat yourself and keep shaking her gently. It doesn’t mean you should play music in her ear at the same time, or talk up in her face, or shake a rattle at her.
I’ve watched this cycle with two different bus monitors this year. It’s overwhelming for me, and I suspect it overstimulates the child they’re trying to keep awake. My mind and body shut down when there’s too much going on. 5-year-olds fall asleep at inconvenient times, when they are, you know, TIRED. This child spends her school day at a special school, probably doing ABA therapy, and being taught social skills. That is exhausting in and of itself. Getting on a bus and having several different sets of information keeping you awake isn’t going to work when you’re autistic. It’s going to freak you out, and you will shut down.
I don’t know how much of a background bus monitors are required to have. But very few of the monitors seem to understand that a tired autistic child is not going to respond as well to things that keep neurotypical children awake. And they also don’t seem to understand how to respect this child and her sensitivities.