All It Takes is One Dumb Bus Driver

The BusThis past Friday, The Boy was left behind by his bus.

Our outside light was on, and our front window blinds (all three of them) were open. The driver rolled up to our house early, honked once, waited less than 10 seconds, and then turned around in the cul de sac and left.

Recently, when our regular bus driver began to arrive earlier and earlier, we worked out an arrangement with her. She now waits for him, and does not expect him to exit the house until around 6:30am, which has been his expectation and his routine for the entire school year.

When the bus left on Friday, I ran out to the porch, waving my arms, to no avail. The Boy began to get upset, wondering how he was going to get to school. We were in a panic. I called the transportation office who informed me there was a substitute bus driver, and assured me that they would instruct her to come back to pick The Boy up. In the meantime, he had returned to bed, unwilling to go to school if he was going to be late.

At this point, The Man offered to take The Boy to school himself (along with a bribe of a donut) so that he could arrive on time. I gave The Boy the choice of waiting for his bus to return, or going with The Man, and he chose to go with The Man.

When the bus arrived, I went out to speak with the driver. She interrupted me before I could get my first sentence out, was extremely defensive and rude, making faces at me, and interrupting me many, many times. She even challenged the truth of what I was saying, and pulled another child up from his seat to “bear witness” that The Boy was not visible when she was there. I told her the arrangement we had with our regular bus driver, but she seemed much more concerned about whether or not I was accusing her of being late, which I obviously wasn’t.  I was shaking by the time I was finished and stalked back into the house.

Incidents like these can not only have immediate and damaging effects (like a meltdown, or refusal to go to school), but they can also have lasting effects on children like The Boy. It will be a long, long time before he can trust that his bus will not leave him behind. Drivers need to have patience with all students, but especially with those with special needs. Would this driver have waited ten seconds after honking and driven off if The Boy was in a wheelchair? Probably not, but she appeared to not have any regard for The Boy’s specific needs.

Everyone employed by the school district that comes into contact with our kiddos should have training about what autism is, the core deficits children with autism have, and how each employee can help students with special needs find success throughout their school day. Anything less is not acceptable.

This is a large excerpt from the letter I am sending to the Director of Transportation, courtesy copied to the Director of Special Education and the Superintendent.  I ain’t playin’ and it’s not over if you’re going to be rude to me.

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Mornings Suck in Autism Households

That is my theory based on the anecdotal evidence I have encountered.  Maybe not for everyone, but for a lot of people I know that have loved ones on the spectrum.

One morning this week, everything was running along splendidly until I suggested to The Boy that it might be a jacket day as it was below 50 degrees.  No problem!  Yes, he agreed.  A jacket was a good idea.

And then we got to the couch, the time to put on socks and shoes, and wait for the bus.  And the bus was early, and The Boy couldn’t find his hat.  And there was NO WAY he was going to school without his hat…

Add in the stray kitten who had hung outside of the house since the previous evening, meowing away – he was trying to get in while I was marching out to the bus in my robe and slippers to plead for a few more minutes, and Raphael was anxious to get out because he always is, and because he was very curious about this kitten.  Add all of that to The (intransigent) Boy stuffing his feet, face, and hands into the couch cushions to ensure he couldn’t go to school without his hat.

Finally, he’s out the door, but not without a stream of under-the-breath curses about hats and school and buses.  I climb back into bed, and The Man says, “Maybe you should set that stuff out the night before.”

(Can you imagine the dark look?)

Yep.  Mornings suck.

 

PS – Guess where the hat was?  Right next to his bed.  *facepalm*

New School Visit

Today, The Boy and I go to visit his new school in the afternoon.  I am picking him up for lunch so that he doesn’t have to go to social studies.  We’ll have a special McDonald’s lunch and then head to the new school to see where his classes will be and meet some of his new teachers.

The Boy is extremely excited, and asks for a daily report about how long it will be before he goes to his new school.  We got the phone call today from the company providing his transportation, as they thought he was starting tomorrow.  I told them they could wait another week, but The Boy was excited to learn that he will be transported to and from school in a gold-colored Town and Country van.  It will be a long trip for him, but he has missed riding this bus all these years, and was always so envious of his buddies who were “bussed” in from other districts at his old school, often in charter company cars like he will now be using.  I think he will love it.

plannershot1I hope he can contain himself at his current school for one more week.  We got a note home from his social studies teacher on Thursday that he was “jumping out of his seat” during class, and I immediately thought, “because he’s happy he only has one more week in your class, lady!”  I didn’t bother to respond.

My excitement is tempered with a bit of anxiety, as any mother’s would be.  But I take heart in the fact that those who know him best on this planet agree with me that this will be a good switch for him, and that he can handle it.  Judging by his excitement, I’m fairly certain he will prove us correct.

How Was Your Flight?

English: Chiva Bus during colombian independen...

Fine.  All four of them.  Besides the bloody noses (two of them, one on each leg of the flight down [The Boy, not me.  He actually took them pretty much in stride, and thanks to helpful flight attendants, they were quickly handled]), the screaming-coughing-sneezing children behind us, and the parents that were clearly outnumbered (can’t you do math??), the seat-backs that were no more than 8 inches away from our face, the waiting, the CRAZY prices they can charge you for snacks at the airport, and the fact that my ears are STILL popping… yeah, completely fine.

I’m only half joking.  OK, maybe I’m not joking at all.  Since when did airline travel become the big, expensive, greyhound of the sky?  Back in the day, air travel was exciting, a luxury, and they gave you snacks!  Now, it is the equivalent of the chiva of Central and South America, replete with chickens, noise, and too many people.  Oh yeah, and they charge you for the peanuts.  And if you want to apply for a credit card, here you go! – we will talk at you about it for about 20 minutes, and make a big production of handing out the applications and then collecting them, while you are desperately trying to tune out the noise and read your book.

I don’t mean to be complain-y, but if I am spending $700 on something, I expect it to be at least kind of nice.  Nice was not spending four of my vacation days traveling, I’ll give you that.  But beyond that, I got nothing.

Suffice it to say, I have yet another thing to be thankful for: when I live very near my parents, and with my boyfriend, I will not have to fly/drive as frequently as I do.  That’s beautiful.

(And it was AWESOME to watch The Boy be so independent, and way better behaved than any of the neurotypical kids around us!!)