Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Bus

Riding the bus. I always thought riding the bus to school was fun. I missed it when, in seventh grade, I transferred to a private school that didn't have bussing. Who would have thought I'd be so concerned about my own boys riding the bus? Not me.

Yet Nick had issues on the bus, particularly in second grade. He was bullied and picked on, and he is, shall we say, reactionary. He couldn't ignore what was happening...the quickest way to end most bullying of the type he experienced. Because he always reacted (just like the bullies wanted!), the bullies kept at him.

That whole issue eventually got resolved after I talked to parents and the principal intervened, and now Nick is a big kid on the bus, which carries first through fifth graders. He handles the commute quite well, and it never occurred to me that he wouldn't get it all straightened out (with a little help). But when it came to putting Jack on that same bus, I balked. Big time.

Nick isn't autistic. Jack is. He's different. He's also sweet and sunny and friendly and concerned about little kids. I didn't want him getting picked on even though I really don't think he would notice or recognize sarcasm. Meanness he would recognize. And I wanted to protect him from that.

Our school has transported him on the "special" bus, which has an aide on board to help with the children. I liked that another adult was present to keep an eye on things while the driver kept her eyes on the road. It felt safer to me.

But. But. But.

The reality is that Jack is very high functioning. VERY high functioning. Compared to last April, when I made the decision to keep him on the little bus, he's not even the same kid. His autism specialist is pulling his one-on-one aide from music and gym because he doesn't need aides in those classes anymore. Last year, he could barely stand 20 minutes in the regular classroom, and this year he spends the bulk of his day there. His verbal communication skills have exploded (though receptive language is still a struggle for him). He really doesn't need the little bus anymore.

So we're moving him to Nick's bus. God, I get a pit in my stomach just typing that.

I've never thought of myself as a hovering parent. I never stood right under my kids on the playground as they tried new things. I stood back, let them get into trouble. I let them learn to get themselves out of trouble, too. But we all have lines we draw in the sand, issues that we just can't be rational or logical about. Here's my issue: the bus.

I'm stepping back, letting Jack into that environment that can be so negative. Just like Nick, with a little help, he can handle it. It will all turn out okay.

I'm scared, but I'm doing it. No doubt, it will be harder on me than on him. I read a lot about parents of kids on the spectrum holding back progress because they are over-protective. I don't want to hold Jack back.

Where are your lines in the sand? What are your issues that push you to a protectiveness you never thought you'd experience as a parent?

1 comment:

Jessi Fogan said...

I have a very hard time letting my boys do things independently (10 & 11, both high-functioning). My line in the sand appears to be the men's bathroom! Whenever we're out, just the kids & me, I have an incredibly difficult time letting them go to the bathroom. My oldest in particular will strike up a conversation with anyone, and that's what concerns me. At the same time, since they are so high-functioning, it feels unreasonable to drag them into the ladies' room - and we certainly get looks.
Another one is the trip to school - they rode the special needs bus up until this year, when they both decided they didn't want to any longer. There is no 'regular' bus option for them, as we're too close to the school, so we are all 3 riding bikes back & forth. I'm sure that they would be absolutely fine riding on their own, but I just can't take that step. We also have to fight for every minute of aide time they get, and I don't want to have anyone try to make the argument that their independence riding home means that they don't need classroom support.