Introducing the dreaded safety vest for riding school buses.
This is what happens when your child who happens to be special needs, keeps unbuckling his seat belt and getting out of other safety devices and thus causes a safety issue on the bus. Johnny rides 3 buses a day and for some reason he feels the need to try and move around a moving school bus on the mid day ride.
You can read about our past adventures here: https://sunflowercyn.wordpress.com/2012/05/01/little-houdini-and-the-school-bus-adventure/
“A special thank you to my friend Lisa and her son who took it upon themselves to create a video for Johnny on how you are suppose to ride a bus…he loved watching it:)”
I still can’t believe that its come to this. We warned Johnny that this would happen if he continued getting out of safety locks, pulling his body out and over. The Autism Support Teacher created a social story to be read to him every single day before he rides the bus to repetitively teach him what is expected of him on bus rides. The Autism Support teacher even rode the bus with him sitting far enough away but close enough to intervene when he had to. Johnny was still trying to get out of his seat belt. The school would put his regular belt on quite tight then put the safety lock on “like a pill bottle” and then put another seat belt across. Johnny would spend the 20 minute bus ride using his strength to lift and wiggle his 50lbs up and out of all the belts. We now had a safety issue on our hands and a behaviour that had now been embedded. We were all puzzled that this was only happening on one bus route every single day. where he transfers between schools. Does he hate the second school? On the contrary they are like his second family. We now had to go to the doctor and get a prescription for the vest for this to say that it was medically necessary because of Johnny having Autism. We were very specific when we signed specific school board papers that this was only to be used during the ONE CHALLENGING BUS RIDE.
I should have known something was wrong when the temporary morning school bus driver gave me the vest on a Friday and said that the company had told him that Johnny would be wearing the vest next week. He was confused because Johnny was an angel with him. I wondered why this bus company (a different one drives him mid-day and home) even had the vest to begin with. I had emailed Johnny’s Autism Support teacher from the school board’s Autism Team and the Principal about getting the vest on Friday and they re-assurred me that the vest was for the mid-day route and that I should put the vest in his backpack with a note to his teachers.
Monday came and we saw this van from the school bus company sitting on our street. We live near 2 schools and lots of school buses go back and forth so we were concerned a little but let it go. Johnny’s Daddy was putting him on the bus when the technical support person from the school bus company jumped out of his van with special straps and said they needed to be installed and Johnny had to wear the vest. The morning driver was visibly upset but she said she was under direction from the school board and her company as well that on ALL BUS ROUTES Johnny must wear the vest. We had prepared Johnny already about the vest by having him try it on over the weekend but he knew which bus ride he was suppose to wear it for. What do you do at that moment? Freak out? Risk having your child with Autism get upset and start the week badly or put a smile on your face and try to reassure them that everything is okay and that they are a good boy?
I was an absolute mess inside the house crying because I was so mad and holding my breathe wondering how Johnny was handling the situation he found himself in. We wanted him to be rewarded for making the RIGHT CHOICES on two of his bus routes but understand because he broke safety rules during the mid-day route that there are consequences. I quickly sent an urgent email to the Princpial and to members of his Autism Support Team to fix this now. Later in the afternoon Johnny’s afternoon teacher phoned me voicing her concerns about the vest. She knew that we only consented for it to be worn on the one bus route and she sees him coming off the bus wearing the vest with absolutely no direction from the school board that has contracted the transportation (afternoon school is private.) I told her that I did not want him to wear it and updated her on what was happening. When the afternoon driver dropped Johnny off he said to me “what is going on?” holding the vest up in his hands because he thinks Johnny is a “good boy.” I am beyond frustrated at this point and thank him for following his conscious.
The next day Johnny’s Daddy puts him on the bus and tells the driver “no vest” and she agrees even though technically she is not suppose to drive him without it unless school board changes policy. We thank her for her kindness.
A month has now passed and Monday morning the driver lets me know that she is off Wednesday and the replacement driver will probably follow the rules and insist on the vest. That’s when I notice the extra belts for the vest. Didn’t we email 2 weeks ago for these to be removed and follow up on the vest only being used for one ride a day? She tells me that her company has not received any news from the school board and she doesn’t want Johnny to be upset that she is gone on Wednesday and this new person is insisting on a vest. Sigh.
Since yesterday I have been sending emails back and forth to the Autism Team Members from the school board and to the Principal asking them to look into this and to please let the bus company know and why.
As I was typing up this blog post I received an email from the Principal saying that everything has been taking care of for tomorrow morning. He is very charming in a “can do” kinda of way, is kind, so I trust him when he says that he has followed through on things…its just everyone else at school that I am holding my breath about.
Tomorrow morning if things have not been “worked out” I promise that I am not putting the vest on Johnny and instead I will risk a major Autistic meltdown by changing Johnny’s routine and I will be ready to put my daughter in the car and drive Johnny to school. I will then go and visit the Principal and let him see “me” after enduring my child who happens to have Autism after I have weathered a meltdown that could have been avoided.