Introducing the Vest….

Introducing the dreaded safety vest for riding school buses.

vest

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.

*crossing fingers*

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12 Comments Add yours

  1. bob says:

    Hi,
    i was wondering what is the brand name of that vest, i know someone who could use that, but with the kind he has now he can take it off

    Like

    1. Cyn says:

      Hi Bob,

      Thank you for stopping by and reading my blog. The school board provided the vest and I had to give it back at the end of the school year otherwise I would look for a label for you. I’m sorry I couldn’t be more help.

      Like

      1. bob says:

        could you ask the school what company they got it, i would like to try a different vest for the person in my life who needs one

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      2. Cyn says:

        School doesn’t start until September 4th here so I will try and see what I can find out for you when they are back to work. Thx.

        Like

  2. bob says:

    Let me know what you find out since school has started up again.

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    1. Cyn says:

      I will once we are back from our trip.

      Like

  3. bob says:

    Let me know when you get back from your trip

    Like

    1. Cyn says:

      Hi,

      Someone at the board was looking into this for me and said they can only give me information on the company that they will purchase safety vests in the future.

      E-Z-ON Products Inc from Florida.

      They vests they have we’re purchased a while ago and there is no purchasing history anymore on file and no tags on the vests.

      I hope this helps.

      Like

  4. bob says:

    that is the one that we are using is from them and we are looking for a different brand thanks for checking though. He can take it off to easily and I was hoping there was a different company out there

    Like

  5. Adhis says:

    I just found this blog post. My daughter is going into kindergarten (special ed.) and we just found out the school has budget cuts so there will not be a bus aide for the driver and instead will be putting these vests on the kids. I am fuming!

    I am being a polite thorn for this week before school starts. Hopefully, the head of Transportation will come to her senses and assign one of the aides to our bus route. I am for sure not putting my daughter in one of these!

    Like

    1. Cyn says:

      Thank you for taking time to read my blog. In my opinion, putting children in the “safety vests” before any challenges presents itself purely for not having aides etc is not right. As I understand it, these type of vests are for when children do not stay buckled in to their regular seat belts.

      Where we live there are no “aides” on the special needs buses. The drivers have training to drive the children. We now know why our son was unbuckling his belt because he is now verbal…..it is because the bus driver kept changing the route she would take and this upset him.
      We were told that we needed our family doctor to sign off on a vest for legal reasons and even he did not agree with the vest because he was concerned with the psychological effects of doing this to a very young child instead of teaching them the expectations of riding a school bus. In hind sight we would not have let ourselves get bullied into this position but we were new to the school system and were worried about losing transportation for our son.

      Follow your heart….see what the other parents think…know your rights. I hope this helps.

      Like

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