“Mommy the other kids on the bus think that **** is annoying when he gets loud, shouts or cries on the school bus in the morning.”
Its been six weeks now since my 4 year old daughter Princess who is neurotypcial started kindergarten and riding the small bus to school with her brother Johnny. The small bus typically transfers special needs children from their door directly to the school. Because Princess has an Autistic sibling she is allowed an exemption and gets picked up as well since the bus already stops at the house. When she began traveling on this bus I wondered when she might have comments or questions regarding the other children on the bus. My little girl is very observant and inquisitive and when she wants to know well she wants to know and will keep prodding until her curiosity is answered. She knows that one of the boys makes some sounds, seems distressed and cannot talk and knows that another boy on the bus is non-verbal but as she gets on the bus every morning I can tell she doesn’t realize she is on a special needs bus.
It seems as though that as Princess has started school and her independence and confidence has increased so has her ideas changed or new phrases that I would be surprised were from her are being said at home now . “I don’t like his face.” “I am not playing with you anymore.”
“He is annoying.”
I gaze over at Johnny and I can tell he is having a hard time listening too his sister talking like that and what she is talking about. This conversation is happening at the dinner table and my little girl is explaining in great detail about how **** should sit nicely in his seat, be quiet and not kick the doors of the school bus because that’s bad. The word BAD sticks out because a long time ago when we began this journey with Johnny we learned how to change the learning dynamic in our house. A child is never bad and we never want them to think they are bad because that hurts their self esteem and makes it harder and harder for them to follow expectations. We learned to try as hard as possible to frame every comment in a positive way to share what WE WANT HIM TO DO OR BE and remind him its his choice that was wrong but he can try next time to make the better choice. So when I hear my little girl comment about another Autistic nonverbal boy on the bus I realize that she is viewing his behaviour as wrong and acting bad. She does not understand that he is Autistic, can’t talk and behaviour becomes communication. She does not remember when Johnny was like this because she was a baby then.
I wrote about a Junior Kindergarten experience here when a little girl talked to me about Johnny in front of him about how BAD he is at school :
I told her that **** is having a challenging time at school and instead of saying he’s annoying that we should try and understand WHY he’s doing that. I know she is young but she is modeling after the girls on the bus who happen to be part of a special education program as well for social communication. I decided to use the moment to explain to her about being more understanding and that her brother might find her annoying at times but he tells her in other ways. That’s when Johnny decides to tell his little sister what he thinks is annoying. Johnny tells her that when he’s in the bathroom he wants privacy and when he’s playing after school she should not sing so loud in his room because….that’s annoying. She did not like that her older brother said that but I told her that imagine what **** thinks when he is upset and he hears other kids on the bus saying that. I asked her to try and think about what her brother would like when he comes home from school and what she would like from him as well. Its a start.
I confess that secretly I am happy that Johnny shared how he felt to his sister instead of covering his ears and yelling like he did in the past “too loud stop talking.” I have to remember Princess is very young still and is growing up with brother who brings many things to the table that other children will not have to deal with. I like to hope that in the end, Princess will grow up with a natural ability to love and understand unconditionally.