A Sensory Ride: What Would The Bus Say?

 

A Sensory Ride2

Hi Stevie, this is Bus.

I was watching you today, as I do most school days.  I saw you trying to get comfortable but the seat-belt was too tight and you couldn’t lean forward at all. It isn't supposed to be that way.

You should be able to shift your position and sit comfortably on my bench seat. It isn’t a part of me—that car seat with the harness buckle. I just want you to know that.

I have gentle seat-belts like you have in the cars in your driveway. My belts would never keep you so tightly against my bench back that you can’t take a deep breath without feeling restricted by the straps.

Maybe you could ask the Ed Techs to loosen the straps for you?  It would be a lot better than getting upset because you aren’t comfortable. I think it would take the edge off, and help you relax into my seats.

Lately, I’ve felt your bouncing more on my bench seats. I am glad my cushions could absorb that energy for you so you don’t get hurt. Can you imagine if they were metal or wooden benches? That would make a painful ride. My bouncy seats keep people comfortable while they ride on me.

When I come to a stop sign, I must stop. My bounciness also stops. When the bouncing stops, you start to get antsy like you want to keep on bouncing. Then you start thrashing and kicking and that is really hard on me.

But it must be helping you in some way or you wouldn’t do it.

Is my engine causing a vibration that is like a tickle to you so you kick into me to stop the vibes? Maybe you just like the deep-pressure sensation in your legs when you kick the seat in front of you?

Your cries are loud and my frame and cushions absorb it from you so it doesn’t stay out in the open to hurt your ears.  The problem is the other people on my benches also hear your wailing, and they can’t absorb it like I can.

It hurts them.  I see the smaller ones cover their ears to muffle the sounds. I see the bigger ones try to calm you down.

Most of the time it doesn’t work so they hold you back against my seat. They are trying to keep you from getting up from your seat while I’m moving.  They just want to keep you safe!

It looks terrifying to see you held back against me like that. Your face changes with every muscle tight.  Drops stroll down from your reddened eyes, glistening as the travel off your face. Your body stiffens and contorts, and become so very strong!  You try everything to be loose of them.

They aren’t trying to hurt you. It’s just the opposite: they are trying to help you!  They would let go of you if you could be safe while you sit in my seat.

Remember when you would bring all your stuffed critters with you to play with on my seats? That was a great way to entertain yourself and stay calm on the bus!  But then you started throwing them at the driver.  Those toys didn’t hurt me though.  Now they are up front by my face, next to the driver’s seat so I get to enjoy them.  (And, I think the driver likes them too.)

Your critters are soft, vibrant and fun to look at. When I used watch you play with them, it made me really happy, just like you!

Your happiness spreads to everyone around you—especially to me.  I could watch you all day long. Your sweet face barely contains all the happiness it expresses. Your eyes look big and deep into your critters as your mouth stretches wide, like it’s not possible to hold back the joy within your heart. Sound almost escapes but you don’t want to make the noise. It would be so loud and hurt your ears so you hold that all inside. It thrills me to see you overwhelmed by joy.

Most people who ride on my seats don’t experience the intensity of emotions that you do.  Most riders stifle their feelings, because of the other people around them. But you don’t. You are pure 100% “you”--  un-hindered.

It is a breath of fresh air for me. It’s like opening my windows to have someone like you ride me every day to school.

So I am happy to absorb your extra sounds and energy when you need me too. I am here and I am able to handle it. I will absorb all I can and try my best to give you a nice ride to and from school each day.

You are welcome on my seats and I am happy to assist you.

With much love and adoration,

Bus 35

At this time, Stevie is doing great on his bus to and from school!  For many years (and still from time-to-time) he had extreme difficulties with panic attacks and sensory issues on the bus.  This post is written with intent to explore some of the reasons why it had been so hard for him.  

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When You Need Answers

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Today held another hard afternoon for Stevie. The bus rides home have been difficult again. Even after a good day at school today, the ride home was filled with gut wrenching screams accompanied by more aggression than I've seen in a long time. The distress on his face was enough to break even a strangers heart. Mine was trampled, shattered and spread all over the yard.

It's one of the hardest things to do, to send your precious child to school knowing that he may end up in meltdowns and restraints or seclusions.  Knowing he is under such great stress, not understood, and often not happy, but sending him to school anyway is purely an act of faith that it is the right thing to do and that God is watching out for him.

But today, today was extra hard. When he arrived home in a state of turmoil, curled under the bus seat screaming and kicking and pulling and scratching at the ed techs that were there to help him, it was just too much to take. What happened to him that he is this upset? What is going on?

The bus screeched off after Stevie was carried and pulled into the yard. He continues his cries, screams and attack, all aimed at me now.

How I wish I knew what the problem with the bus is, what would help him. How I would give anything in these moments to have my boy happy and playful again, and to end these episodes once and for all.

But I have no idea what is causing this. No idea where to turn next, how to advocate for him or even if advocating is needed.

In the midst of my own distress, I sit down to check email and try to distract myself. Pinterest pops up with an image and a verse: Psalm 25:5  "Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long."

Instantly Comfort calms me with whispers from God. He knows the truth of Stevie's situation and He knows the answer to his problems. He is my teacher, my Savior and my hope all day long.

I don't need to worry.

I only need to ask Him for the truth and guidance I need and He will supply it.

We still don't have the solution or even the whole story about what happened today, but I do have a calmness in my spirit that comes with the knowledge that

Stevie is in good hands.

"Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don't try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for God's voice in everything you do, every place you go; he's the one who will keep you on track." Proverbs 3:4-5 (The Message)