The title is a little play on that warning etched into your car’s side mirrors. That item is a school bus and it’s coming up fast; a reminder that school is coming and with it all the gut-wrenching, anxiety-filled moments that parents dread. First among them is ‘how is he going to handle the bus?’ For NT children, the transition from elementary to middle school can be daunting, and even more so when they transition to high school. New schools, new teachers, new bus routes, new class schedules; but pretty much the same group of friends and acquaintances they’ve had, or known since kindergarten.
Chronologically, Mike is in middle school. This September he’ll be in an inclusion class in a typical middle school not in our home school district. He has been out of district for the past three years, attending Nassau BOCES Rosemary Kennedy School; before that were largely ineffective years in 2 different Special Ed classes in our district (another story for another time). In the three years at RKS, Mike really blossomed because they really understood him, and were able to channel his behaviors; to maximize his ability to learn. Maximized to the point that his behaviors went away, and he showed a real aptitude for art and science, and has an expanding vocabulary; maximized to the point of exceeding the expectations of a 6:1:1 setting in a Special Ed school.
Back to the bus aspect of this post; I remember when one of my other sons came home one day on the bus from elementary school, and no one was there to meet him at the bus stop; school bus company policy kicked in and he had to stay on the bus which dropped him back off at school so that a teacher could watch him until we picked him up. As frantic as that was, it was a safe scenario. I cannot imagine a bus company ever losing my son with Autism. I can’t fathom this concept, yet it probably happens far more often than is ever reported in the news, often resulting in a tragedy. He will probably continue to be picked up and dropped off by mini-bus with a matron, a situation he’s accustomed to. During the school year, for planned field trips and the like, he may have to ride in a regular-sized bus, with NT middle schoolers. We all know how pleasant many middle schoolers can be. He has ridden in a regular-sized bus before, and does so now for camp, but that is with other special needs kids. My hope and wish is that, like in the article below, ‘the world is basically safe, and that people are generally good.”
Ah, school anxiety — it’s not just for children anymore. -Ed
School has started in pockets of the country, and the first story of a child misplaced by a bus driver this year comes from Gwinnett County, Ga. Five-year-old Harrison Antone has autism, and when the Sugar Hill Elementary School bus dropped him at the wrong stop because his teacher put the wrong ID tag on him.
According to the local station, WSB-TV, two teens found the boy, who was wandering around an apartment-complex parking lot, and took him to an adult. She, in turn, searched his backpack, found his mother’s number and called.
So what is the lesson we take from this first-day-of-school tale (in addition to the obvious changes needed in the school’s bus procedure)?
Is it that the world is not a safe place for children?
Or that a little boy who needed help got it?
“I called her and told her, ‘I have your son. He’s safe. He’s at my house and I’ll keep him safe until you arrive,'” his rescuer says she told his mom.
Isn’t that the lesson — that the world is basically safe, and that people are generally good — the one that we most need to learn?