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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Snippets of My Life with Autism: A Sensory Mix-Up

Sensory Mix-Up

I slapped the food right out of my moms hands. She was about to eat it and I just couldn't stand the thought. Green leaves like what I see outside on the trees were in her sandwich. Well, it wasn't really a sandwich because those have two pieces of bread and stuff in the middle. What she had was all rolled up like the cardboard tube that toilet paper is rolled on. And to make it worse, it was wet. There was wet stuff with a smell to it, on the leaves. She put other things in there too. I think it's turkey and cheese, but I am not sure what it is. All I know, is that it is  repulsive to look at and I am sure it is not safe to eat. So that is why I tried to stop her from eating it.  She was not happy when I did that. She said, "That is my sandwich and I am going to eat it. It's my dinner!" but I know that is not a sandwich. I don't know why she keeps calling it that. 

I can't believe she eats leaves.  I would get in trouble if I ate leaves.

I do like to watch her cook though, even though I know you shouldn't eat it.  When she sprays olive oil, there are all these tiny, tiny soft beads of oil in the air all around where she sprayed. I love to put my hand in the middle of the misty cloud and try to feel it. But it's like there is nothing there to feel. I just makes my fingers slippery. I can smell it though. I always try to feel it and smell it now.

When I was little, I didn't want to feel or smell anything. Everything hurt me, except my mom and dads tight, big-squeeze hugs. I loved those because they made me feel all put back together again. But other things, like putting on shoes--oh how I hated that!  They would try to put my foot in the shoe but I knew it would tickle and tickles hurt sometimes, especially the really light ones--they just put a chill through my body like nails screeching down a chalkboard.  So when they tried to put on my shoes, I would just curl my toes up real tight in anticipation of that feeling.  But then my shoes would not fit and my mom and dad would get really upset with me and say I wasn't cooperating. Finally, they figured out if they gave my feet a deep massage first, and then put my shoe on, it didn't bother me so much!  

I also didn't like it when bubbles that you blow out the magic wand, popped on me. I would not reach out to pop them like everyone wanted me to, because that cool light splash on my warm body was like a sharp electric zap. I loved to watch the bubble float down though. I used to make my mom blow more and more and more.

She would even bring bubbles to the store when we all went shopping. I usually didn't make it very long sitting in the hard, shiny cart with the bright lights shining down, reflecting all sorts of colors and shapes and brightness that hurt my eyes--not to mention the flickering they make and the buzzing sound they give off. I don't know how anyone can stand them.  But, if she brought bubbles, I wouldn't cry, because then I could just watch them slowly float down, down, down and it would make me calm and give me something to distract me from all that was happening around me.

Like the noises: the crying babies, the sudden drop that clanked right through my little body, the ear shattering beeping noise that carts at Home Depot make when they back up, the sound of the cart wheels as they roll bumpity-bump across the black top in the parking lot.  Stores can be so loud and I can only handle having that hatchet made of noise split my head open so many times and then I meltdown. My big brother used to wear headphones to make the noise less loud but I just never like the feel of them pressing around my ears. That hurt too.  

Making my own noise is different though. I like to make my own noise and listen to it echo all around me. My family will tell me it's too loud and scrunch their face up at me when I do that, and it makes me laugh and then I do it more to see if they will mess up their faces again.

When I make my own noise, it sounds different inside my head and it isn't as loud as other peoples noises. I think it doesn't bother me as much because I know my noise. I don't have to figure out what that noise is, or where it is coming from, and if it is a warning sound of danger. I know when my noise is going to happen because I am making it. So I am not surprised, or unguarded when my noise comes.

Sometimes, though, I will plug my ears while I make noise, just in case. 

(This is written by my mom, to the best of her ability to understand 9 year-old-me and the way I perceive the world considering I have autism, adhd, and anxiety disorder).

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