Earlier this year, Navistar announced that it would relocate its corporate offices from Warrenville, Ill., to nearby Lisle so it could build a new diesel engine manufacturing facility. It's been a controversial approval process, but not for all the reasons one might think.
That's where the special education angle comes into play.
The proposed new headquarters in Lisle is only about 10 minute commute east on I-88, but local residents are partly concerned about the close proximity Navistar would have to a forest preserve and the Morton Arboretum. The opposition has made their case at DuPage County Board meetings that the new Navistar diesel test facility would have "the explosive power equal to one third of the atomic bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima." Meanwhile, residents of Fort Wayne, Ind., have their own concerns as moving the Navistar Truck Design Center could have a negative impact on jobs.Yet, one of the most interesting groups opposing the relocation is a local school as educators and parents aren't concerned so much about the safety of the diesel engine plant as much as the noise it will produce. Navistar construction plans show storage facilities for 162,000 gallons of diesel fuel and the labs where the company would test dozens of engines. While the company has said sound decibels will conform to community standards, local residents fear that autistic students will be especially susceptible as these children have much more difficulty processing sound in their brains.
Over the summer, the Giant Steps school moved into a new $9 million facility located in the same business park area that Navistar hopes to cohabit. Many scientific studies indicate children with autism are especially impacted by their surroundings, from loud noises to fumes in the air. For years, scientists have known how noise can affect child verbal development and learning, and noise is known to be especially challenging for children diagnosed with autism. Said one parent about his 19-year-old child, who attends Giant Steps to CBS2 News in Chicago:
"He was originally in a regular school with other kids but noise levels are difficult for him – a therapeutic setting is really the best for Quenton," said his mother, Thais Palluau from Naperville.