Thursday, December 18, 2008

We have the most awesome special ed bus driver ever

We'd moved shortly before school started last year, and because my daughter R. always buses to school, we're always a bit on the edge waiting to see what her transportation is going to be like. She's taken everything from regular school buses, to "short buses", to cabs and vans, and it's always a bit nerve-wracking.

A couple of days before school started we had a knock on our door, and I opened it to find a gentleman in his 60s standing on our front porch. He introduced himself and said that he was R's new bus driver- that he'd been driving buses for years, but had never driven special ed kids before. He'd heard that children in special education were often more comfortable when they could anticipate a routine, so he was driving his route (that Saturday), not only to find out exactly how long it would take him, but to introduce himself to any of "his" kids that might be home that day. While I'm sure that the school board might have freaked out if they knew that he was driving around introducing himself to people, it was hugely helpful to us- he and R chatted for a few minutes, and it cut her anxiety down for the first day of school by a huge order or magnitude.

We ended up having transportation problems for the first few weeks- unknown to pretty much all of us, the school board had given him an extra route, so he was generally picking R up about 3/4 of an hour late. Needless to say that meant that she was pretty much in full melt-down by the time he got here- we all know that there's nothing more that a lot of autistic kids like than to have their routine thrown into that kind of disarray. We eventually got communication worked out between the four agencies that his routes involved, and he's been prompt, as well as incredibly patient and good with all of the kids.

This morning R went running out to her bus (she got a new sweater last night, so she was itching to get to school), and a few minutes later there was a knock on the door. He and his wife had put together a little Christmas package for each of "his" kids, but he thought that he should give it to me so that she wouldn't be gobbling down chocolate on the way to school.

We see so MANY stories about horrendous transportation experiences, and people who apparently have no ability or desire to get to know our kids. This man told me the first time I met him that he'd never been in a room with an autistic person before and was obviously nervous about it, and yet he has done a wonderful job because he treats "his" kids like people. We're lucky to run across people like him.

For the first time this year, I'm in a Christmas mood.

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1 comment:

farmwifetwo said...

Here they are expected to run their routes prior to the beginning of the year and allow the special ed children the opportunity to wander around the bus and meet the driver.

It's part of the service.