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The Bus

  • Posted on May 11, 2012 at 8:00 AM

I thought, perhaps, that the worst was over.  After all, we’d figured out that Ben needed to continue to receive his one-on-one support in a less busy environment in order to reduce his aggressive behavior and increase his academic progress.  That’s all to the good and so far it seems to be working.  But this week a new problem was revealed:  Ben is a bright boy.

Okay, so technically that’s not a problem, nor is it something that is just now being revealed.  What has been revealed is Ben’s ability to escape from yet another harness when riding the bus.  Being the bright boy that he is, it was only a matter of time and, frankly, I’m surprised it took him this long.

So, here’s the real problem.  The bus staff (there’s a driver and an aide) cannot manage Ben’s behaviors without the restraint provided by the harness.  When the aide helps another student on or off the bus, Ben uses the moment of “distraction” to escape from the harness and wreak havoc.  Now, as far as I knew, the harness was only a temporary strategy (for reasons that are now blatantly clear) and that other measures would be put in place to help Ben learn appropriate bus behaviors.

It is possible.  As soon as Ben learned how to undo his seat belt on his own whim (versus upon our request), he did so with reckless abandon.  It was a heady feeling of freedom for him to be able to unbuckle his seat belt and start moving about while the car was in motion.  But that freedom was not allowed to last.  We “broke” the habit by not tolerating it, by putting him back in his seat, and by having a responsible person sit next to him in the intervening period to help him learn to stay in his seat.  It was work.  But it worked.

For some reason, I assumed the bus staff would do the same.  I assumed they, as a bus hired (by the school district) specifically to transport children with special needs, would have staff (hired by the busing company) that would receive adequate training to handle inevitable situations.  And this situation was inevitable.  Restraints help, but they should not be intended as a long-term solution, because they don’t work as a long-term solution.

Instead of dealing with the problem (the unwanted behavior of getting out of his seat), once again they’re treating Ben as the problem (kicking him off of the bus for the rest of the year).  So, we have a new routine to develop and a new entry into the school at a time when Ben really needs as much predictability as possible.  So far the adjustment is working (more or less), but it’s one more problem that could have been avoided.