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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.

Looking to the Future

  • Posted on September 13, 2010 at 7:43 AM

As much attention as I place on my own academic progress, it’s not hard to imagine that I want my children to have the opportunity to go to college or to pursue whatever other vocational and educational advancements they may choose for themselves.

 Right now, Willy’s artistic abilities along with his interest in space and his eye for dimensions make architecture a promising field for him to pursue.  He also wants to make movies someday.  Alex’s interests tend to lean more towards drawing and manipulating letters, so his horizon is full of its own artistic potential, whether it is as a visual artist or a writer.  Whereas, Ben tends to lean more towards drama—he’s a showman and loves reciting stories. 

Any and all of these interests could be furthered with advanced training.  Some careers in these areas require college degrees.  Others could be pursued professionally without a degree, but training is still required.

Yet sometimes it seems like these opportunities will be outside my boys’ reach.  Will seems the most likely to go to college, because he is, thus far, the most of adaptive of my boys.  But even finding an art teacher who can communicate artistic techniques in a way Alex can understand and duplicate seems unattainable, let alone engaging in the kind of study many artists find invaluable when developing their craft.

Now there seems to be a bright spot on the horizon.  Recent articles have drawn my attention to the possibility that, perhaps, our society is ready to adapt better to the needs of our special students sufficiently well to give my children the opportunities they deserve.

For example, Lessons on Living with Autism is an article that, while pretentiously named, discusses a “College Internship Program” that prepares students with “high-functioning autism and Asperger’s disorder” for a better collegiate experience.

Some things in this article I find disagreeable.  Others seem very promising.  It’s too soon to know whether such a program can gain the kind of widespread support it needs to be both a success and widely accessible.  I would also like to see if it can be expanded to include as many autistics as want to participate—instead of singling out those regarded as “high-functioning”. 

It’s a step in the right direction that makes me just a little bit more at ease regarding the opportunities that will be available to my children.