Previously on “The Boy On the Bus,”…..
Another morning getting on the school bus and another bright spot to start the day. Johnny got on the bus first like he always does and greets his buddy Michael and heads to his seat. But this morning, John decided to reach out and grab my daughter Princess’s hand as she tried to make her way to her seat. As he held her hand he locked eyes with her and tried to smile. She was really happy and she said “Hi John” and he grabbed her other hand and squished it. “Mommy Mommy Mommy….look at this!! John is saying hi to me today! This is fun. This is so great. Hi John.” They were having a moment and then she said “I have to sit down now John” and so he let her hand go. He then grabbed my hand and shook it and gave me a quick look. I can see my son Johnny is observing the different interactions going on and taking note but he doesn’t say anything. I then said “Hi “to Michael and did the kids up and then left the bus. As I watched the bus drive away I wondered what had changed that John was being so social suddenly. It felt very dramatic.
Day by day more and more interactions occurred every morning. He now wanted to interact with Johnny and get his attention before he greeted his buddy Michael. So the next day I talked to my son about taking a moment and greeting John first and really making an effort. I reminded him of how it was when he couldn’t talk and how hard it was to get people’s attention. I explained to him that only HE truly understands what his happening right now and he can be the leader. Johnny then said, “is it because John is Autistic and I am Autistic?” I said yes but more then that. I told him they were both the same age, that Johnny used to not be able to talk and he used to wear the safety vest and harness on the bus. I reminded that he doesn’t need the vest anymore, that he can talk and be social and he is not in the ME Room but the ASD Room and is partially integrated into the regular classroom unlike John. So now everyday as Johnny stepped onto the school bus he felt like he was a rock star with both boys at front trying to get his attention and trying to either say hi or grab his hand. Johnny loves attention but the grabbing and excitement can be a bit much on some mornings but what a great way to start the school day.
So as we were getting to the end of January, I thought I needed to let John’s teachers and parents know this incredible thing that is happening on the school bus every morning now. So decided to write a note to the Principal to pass on.
I have been meaning to write to you to share the wonderful experience we keep having every morning when the bus comes to pick up Johnny and Princess. There is a boy on the bus by the name of John and since the Christmas break a big transformation has happened. From the first day of school in January, he is trying to interact with the kids as they get on the bus and greet them with strong eye contact and smiles. It began with me and he would would take my hand and hold it and look me in the eye and try to say something. Then he’d rub my hand on his cheek and smile. Then the next day he would hold Princess’s hand until he got her attention and interact with her. Now every morning we are greeted with lots of smiles and interactions. If my kids have an extra bag on the bus he is engaged and trying to get their attention to see what special thing they are bringing to school that day. I also stand on the sidewalk and wave as good bye and now John is watching me with a big smile too.
So please feel free to pass this on to John’s classroom teacher and parents because this is something he never did before and I know with raising my own son with Autism that these are big steps that we like to celebrate. “
The following week of more interactions with John when one day as I get off the school bus, the driver places a piece of paper in my hands. She tells me it is from the little boy’s Mom.
“To parent of Johnny and Princess,
Thank you so much for your letter,
It was very heart warming to read.
I would love to arrange a get together one day
if you are open to the idea.
Signed, John’s Mom”
I was truly touched and so relieved at the same time that I decided to follow through and share. This journey can have some REALLY challenging days so deep down I knew that I just needed to make sure the family knew what was happening.
You will have to stay tuned for what happens next in my story about the “boy on the bus.”