Tate receives special bussing to school. Yes, our kid is on the “short bus”. Every morning Tate waits eagerly for the bus to round the bend of our cul-de-sac. He-of-supernatural-hearing-abilities hears that beast coming before we even see it…and he races to the bus-stop. The doors open, and his driver, Ms. J, greets him with a huge smile and a friendly tone.
Ms. J: Good morning, Tate! How are you?
Tate: I’m fine. I go to school now. Bye, Mommy, see you in the morning!
Me: I will see you after school! (Too late, Tate has walked to his seat already.)
We have been very lucky–all of Tate’s drivers have been wonderful. They have been so loving, caring, and friendly. I have no worries about my child getting on the bus. And that is wonderful because I worry about so much else throughout the day as it pertains to Tate.
Ms. J drove Tate when he was in 3 y.o. preschool. She wasn’t his driver last year, once we got the official diagnosis of Autism. When she dropped off his harness this past August, she asked how Tate was doing, and I filled her in on everything. She said that she didn’t know much about Autism, but she would try to learn how to help Tate. I’m telling ya, she’s one of the good ones.
I have shared many strategies with Ms. J so that his life, and hers, go smoothly during the bus ride. She notified me a few weeks into school about his anxiety and screaming out, almost in pain, when the bus was stopped due to a train. (There is a crossing right before the school…and the disruption in his plan to get to school set his anxiety off.) I told her that singing helps pass the time, and how she can talk him through his anxiety by laying out how she has to stop for the train, and then the train goes, and then when the arms go up, she can keep driving.
Tate also has every child’s seat memorized, and he knows exactly who is supposed to be there when he gets on the bus. Ms. J now knows how to explain absences to Tate. He accepts it and can move on. (In the past, some meltdowns occurred when he couldn’t understand where his “friends” were.)
Ms. J’s usual bus was acting up during a cold spell in January. When Tate got on the bus, she calmly told him why the bus was different, and why he and his friends had “new” seats for a few days. She gets down to his level, and tells him directions quietly, and firmly…and he listens. He follows directions from her because she has learned to break them down for him, and the others like him.
Tate has give-and-take conversations with Ms. J. They are brief, but they are conversations. She knows how huge this is for him..and for us. She makes sure to share them with us.
Tate is very blessed to have such a dedicated, caring driver. She truly goes above and beyond every day when she shuttles my son, and others, to school. In life before Autism, I wouldn’t have put much thought into our fortune with drivers…but now?? I try to take nothing for granted…all things matter…especially a wonderful driver who goes above and beyond 5 days a week.