"Autism & Memoirs of an Old Maid"…C'hele's Story

May 14, 2007

Autism: A Matter Of Child Centerdness

Filed under: Aspberger Syndrome, Autism, Special Needs — C'hele @ 17:09

Instead of writing this blog entry, I should be writing a scathing letter of complaint. Its been a week since the incident and only just now am I calm enough to put to letter my thoughts. Last Friday I took the day off work so I could catch up on sorely overdue paperwork and errands. On a normal day, the bus drops off Michaela after school at my parents home. So naturally, I called the bus company to arrange that Michaela be dropped of at my home that Friday afternoon. Mom was already notified of the change of plans the day before so she had arranged to take off in the afternoon to do her own errands. It was 3:50 p.m. and I became very worried as Michaela still did not arrive home. I called the bus company to inquire what the delay was and the woman on the other end of the phone replied, “Michaela was dropped off 25 minutes ago at Nana’s house.” Sudden fear ripped through by body as I retorted back, “My parents are not home! I called earlier this afternoon to notify you guys of the change!” I quickly hung up on her as she was still speaking and hurried to retrieve my purse. Still in my lounging clothes, I ran to my car and sped off to my parents place hoping to find Caela there as she has a tendency of wandering away. Upon arriving at the house, I took note of the absent car in my parents driveway. “How the hell did this happen?” I questioned myself. Getting out of the car I instinctively ran toward the back gate that lead to the backyard gardens. Yelling out for Michaela, I was greeted by the hysterical, crying, reply of “M-O-M-M-I-E!!!” Thanking the universe that she was still there, she threw the gate open with such force that it “walloped” up against the wall of the house leaving an indentation. With a tear-stained face, Michaela flew into my arms sobbing uncontrollably. Trying to speak to me amidst the crying, her words became audibly higher and were completely foreign to me as she struggled to explain what happened. Not only was she terrified with the realization that she was alone and did not have her cell phone with her, she was horrified about having break one of the kitchen windows in her attempt to get inside. Thank goodness, she only had one small cut on the side of her hand to accompany a small bruise from the incident. She was also extremely upset that she had damaged the screen door handle to boot. I struggled to get her in the house and almost had to drag her in. I began a calm-down routine familiar to me from work that is effective on autistic kids which at least helped Caela to get her breath back. Fifteen minutes later the bus driver returned and came to the door. Full of remorse, she apologized profusely. I could have greeted her with a frigid indifference however, I realized that this attitude would do nothing to problem solve this particular predicament. After about ten minutes, she confessed to me that she had difficulties with three of the children fighting on the bus and my daughter was one of the culprits. Twice she had to pull over to deal with the fighting and in her frustration and anger, she failed to make sure that Michaela went “inside” the house when dropped off (the bus drivers are responsible to make sure that each child enters the house upon drop-off). Michaela’s classmates are extremely challenging, most have Asperger Syndrome along with various additional labels. For those who do not know, Asperger’s is neurological brain disorder that affects mainly social and communication issues in people. So you have a whole bunch of these kids in one small bus, going at it and they are incapable of stopping once they reach a certain point of elevation emotionally. I called and asked that the manager of the bus company call me so we could discuss this further. She did attempt to call me back twice, but she knew that I was amidst a conversation with the bus driver at that time so I did not answer my cell phone. When I arrived home to return the call, it was five in the afternoon and they were shut down for the weekend. I never did receive a call thereafter. No apology, no following up to see if Michaela was ok- nothing. I am completely incensed at the lack of empathy from this bus company. I am in the process of fighting to have an aid to be placed on that bus in order to keep the peace. This is a serious safety issue for the children and the bus driver herself and something needs to be done. I have already emailed the director of special programs here in the municipality, requesting that he place an aid on the bus and to call me back. That four days ago, and I have yet to hear back from him either. It’s entirely disgusting to me that the issue of “money” to pay for an extra aid is above the safety, care and well-being of children and the driver herself. I am entertaining the thought of writing the newspapers knowing that this could reflect negatively on my career. However, I have a great need to do what is right. I am exhausted. I am also currently fighting Caela’s teachers and special programs about her resource room as well. Michaels is being denied the right to be integrated in a regular classroom also due to money issues. When it rains, it pours!!



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