Do you ever have one of those weeks that just doesn't get off to a good start? Well, that was our week last week. Just half hour after putting my little man on the bus to go to school, I received a phone call that he'd had a bad meltdown on the bus, hit the aid and was asked to come pick him up. Unfortunately, I didn't have a vehicle that day, but thankfully they were able to calm him down for a bit so he could go back to the classroom. We were told however that they thought perhaps the aid getting off the bus and physically putting him on was escalating the aggression- this is not the first meltdown over the bus, but had been the worst. As I said, this was not the first time he's had difficulty. He absolutely despises getting on the bus and going to school and it is a fight every single day to get him to the bus. Technically, they are not supposed to get off the bus anyway but knowing that I was told by my doctor NOT to lift him, she was doing so to help me out. But after this incident, they were told they were no longer able to do this and that if I could not physically get him on the bus myself, we'd have to drive him. Being a single vehicle family (or a one car, one motorcycle- which here in Indiana mostly means one vehicle), this isn't always possible...I spent the entire day worrying how we would be getting him to school over the next few weeks if it came to it...
And then I got another phone call. That afternoon, as they were heading back to the bus to go home, he had yet another meltdown- this time resulting in him headbutting one of the class aides, and so they decided to suspend him from school for two days. Keep in mind, my little man is only in preschool- who knew they suspended preschoolers!? And a special education preschooler at that. Now, let me first say that I do really understand WHY he was suspended- they can't have the staff being injured- honestly, I get that. But here's the thing- all this behavior is because he absolutely despises going to school- the school/the bus...something absolutely freaks him out. He also says he has no friends there, and that his trains and mommy are his friends. So by suspending him from school- he got exactly what he wanted- not to have to go! It goes against everything we've been taught in ABA and other therapies through the years regarding meltdowns. I worry now that he has learned from this experience that hitting a teacher means no school...he's incredibly smart that way!! Still, we did everything we could think of at home to make it not a fun day off- no iPhones/iPads for the entire two days, and on the first day he was able to play with only one train- a big deal for my little man!
He returned to school Thursday, just in time for Grandparents Day. And did wonderful- we'd told his teacher he was allowed to leave with his Nana, to avoid any issues so soon after coming back, but much to my surprise he chose to stay but said he was NOT riding the bus home. He did well for the rest of the day (though was crying when we arrived, thinking he was going to be taken to the bus). Friday we once again had a vehicle and took him to school after missing the bus by mistake...again a great day, no troubles at all. It seems like the bus might be a big part of the problem at this point. His new teacher (his original teacher went on maternity leave) wrote him a social story about Thomas and Friends riding the bus and going to and from school, and we're hoping that helps some- he'd had one in California using Angry Birds that worked well, but was having no effect here. She also noticed that it seemed to get worse in the lobby where they waited on the buses to arrive and that it got pretty loud in there, so they are going to try some noise cancelling headphones (like what you might use if you work with loud tools, or while shooting) to see if it might be a sensory issue that these will help. So, we have a few plans in place to try and at this point it's really just wait and see what happens.
Today is his first day where he has to ride the bus again, and I do worry how it will go for him (and if I'll actually be able to get him on there). I hate how difficult this is for him- he's really not a bad kid, he's just absolutely terrified to go to school and that breaks my heart for him. Having severe social anxiety myself, school at times would make me physically ill- so I truly understand to an extent how difficult it is for him. I've said before, life raising a child with Autism is an adventure and a roller coaster- full of ups and downs. Right now, we're on a down with all this bus/school craziness, but I am trying to keep my head up and make it through the next few weeks until summer vacation. Next year he starts an all new school as he enters kindergarten...this transition could lead to even more troubles, but I am hopeful that his new classroom/school will be a better fit for him and he can once again go back to enjoying school and having friends as he did in the past. Until then, we will take each day as they come.