Brian is a pretty happy camper most mornings (see above picture) while waiting for the school van, with the exception of Mondays, as transitioning off the weekend is generally difficult. Can’t say I blame him, as I dislike Mondays too! Extra coffee and music get our Mondays going in the right direction, along with Brian’s Transportation Dream Team to school. We love our current driver and aide! They treat Brian with great care, kindness, and patience. I never have to think twice about his safety and am confident that he is in the best of hands. What a blessing! 🙂 I tell them all the time that they can’t leave until he finishes school at 21 yrs.old. Unfortunately, we have also had a bad bussing experience in the past, which is sadly not unusual in the special education world. More on that later…
Special needs school bussing is often underrated, yet is the most essential and important part of the students day as far as I’m concerned. The bus driver and aide are transporting our precious cargo to and from school and are therefore responsible for their safety and well being. It is a huge charge and not one to be taken lightly. It is especially concerning if your child is non-verbal, like Brian is, or if your child has limited language or is unable to communicate their feelings. Our kids can be potential targets for abuse; it is awful that this can happen, which is all the more reason why we parents need to be extremely vigilant about our kids transportation providers.
When I look back now, it is hilarious, but I was one of those “helicopter” Moms when Brian took his first bus to school (in town) at 4 years old.
There was no stopping me- I interrogated the driver and aide about safety procedures , made them demonstrate how they would buckle Brian in his seat, asked for all possible phone numbers, just in case something happened during the 4 mile drive. I drove behind them when they took Brian to school for the first week too. The driver and aide must have thought I was nuts, which I was a little, of course, lol, but with a little boy who is nonverbal, it made a lot of sense to me. They had my son after all! In time, the driver and aide gained my trust and I was able to relax, knowing all was well. It was difficult to part ways with these wonderful folks when Brian eventually changed schools. It was the very first time that I really understood what it must be like for Brian to experience change- it’s really hard to transition to new and unfamiliar people, places, and things.
We had a very similar experience with the next bus driver and bus aides assigned to Brian and 4 other students. Over time, I felt comfortable with this bus staff, as they too, proved to be very competent and caring. In fact, I went as far as writing letters of commendation to the transportation supervisor, highlighting the bus staffs dedication to the children and professionalism on the job. It was the perfect scenario for 6 years and then things changed when Brian switched schools a little over a year ago.
First impressions are very telling and gut instinct is there for a reason. My initial impressions and of the new bus driver and aide this time around were not as positive as previously. The driver was unpleasant and the assigned aide seemed to be unfocused. I made specific requests for basic accommodations for Brian ( to make the ride more pleasant and to ensure an on time arrival at school) and they were met with resistance. I was quite befuddled by such a reaction, (my requests were never a problem before for the previous transportation companies) and presented my concerns to the owner of the bus company in a polite and professional manner. He said he would see what he could do. The very next day during the middle of Brian’s IEP meeting, we received copies of 3 scathing memos from the bus company owner sent to the transportation manager at Brian’s school claiming that I was being “unreasonable” with my requests, and how Brian was “causing a disturbance on the bus”. What?! This is a bus company who allegedly services children with SPECIAL NEEDS!! Shame on them! Needless to say, Brian never went back on that particular bus again, effective that day! It actually worked out for the best, eventually leading us to our current bus driver and aide, thank goodness!
Unfortunately, incompetence and unprofessional behavior from those individuals entrusted to our children’s care is an inescapable part of the special needs journey. Hopefully it is more the exception than the rule, as the majority of folks who interact with our children do care and are well-intended. In the meantime, we continue to tell our present Transportation Dream Team that their daily role is greatly appreciated. Peace of mind is priceless, and so is the giving of compliments and small gifts at Christmas and the end of the school year to the folks who provide such an important service for our children. They are and always will be integral members of Team Brian.
Until next time…thanks for reading! 🙂