Should your child wear a saftey harness on the bus?

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K wearing a safety harness/vest . K was put in a harness at my request when she started school

I have seen on facebook parents concerned over the fact that the school and or the bus company wants to place a child in a safety harness. 

These parents do not want their child in restraints – on one hand is understandable for the parents to feel that way. But normally, the schools and the bus company will not make that suggestion unless there is a very good reason for it – like safety!

So let me tell you K’s story about the safety harness:

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 K started school out of state. I started working as a school bus driver out of state. 

During my training as a driver, I took K to school one day with my trainer. K was the only child on the bus. She was sitting next to the window and the trainer was right across from her. K decided to undo her lap belt and run towards the back of the bus while I was driving down the road. I had to pull over and get her back into her seat and rebuckle the seat belt.

Luckly, we were not on a busy road, she was the only child on the bus, and she did not open the back door or come up to the front of the bus to press buttons.

In that instant, I saw the potential danger for my daughter who at the time was 5. I saw the potential danger for her bus driver and I saw the potential danger for the other kids on the bus.

As a school bus driver, we are in charge of your child’s safety on the bus. We have to ensure the child’s safety from the other kids on the bus, how that child may interact with the other kids and keep those kids safe, too. We have to maintain safety of all the childern while on the road and be aware of all potential hazards while driving. So as a school bus driver, our eyes, ears, reflexes are doing double duty – eyes on the road, eyes on the kids, ears hearing both sounds from the childern and the environment outside of the bus.

Knowing what I saw my daughter do that day, I spoke to her school and the bus company to request that K be put into a safety harness. So during, the time we lived out of state, K had the safety harness on while on the bus. I was rest assured my daughter was safe.

When we moved to our current state and K was registered in her new school, the safety harness was stated as being required in her IEP as well as being on a bus with an aide. I explained to the new school and the transportation director what my daughter needed as stated in her IEP.

The Transportation Director did not want to give my daughter the vest nor the bus with the aide. 

I was told “The childern need the opportunity to learn how to ride on the bus.”

My response – Ooookaaaay, trust me I warned you! If anything happens it is all on the school district!

Within 2 weeks of the school year, it was decided to move my daughter to a bus with an aide. Why? Well, K kept undoing her seat belt and bit a student on the bus.

I told you so …. you, Transportation Director, were warned!

K was put on a mini bus with an aide. A few days later, I am being told “Your child needs a safety harness!”

SMH! WTF?!?!? Are you (the transportation director and the school district) stupid? You were told by me – the parent, since the start of the school year and it was in her IEP from her old school. Idiots!

So at the request of the new driver and the transportation director, K was placed in the safety harness for “safety reasons”. This could have all been prevented if the new school listen to me from the start.

So please consider the request for the safety harness/vest not as demand to restrain your child, but to keep your child safe, as well as keeping all of the kids safe!

As a former bus driver, all it takes is one distraction for something horrible to happen!

The safety harnesses is meant to help keep the child in the bus seat. The harnesses are used for these reasons:

  • The child is violent
  • The child constantly undoes their seat belt 
  • The child moves around on the bus while the bus is in montion
  • The child shows they are a danger to themselves, the other students, and to the driver

Driving on the road can be hazardous for any driver. But a school bus driver is dealing with perious cargo and the hazards of the road. To ensure every child is safe on the bus – including yours – if the school requests a safety harness then just do it! It is meant to keep your child safe while on the bus!

Below is a link to a company that sells the saftey harnesses:

Easy Way Safety Harness

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This is an example of a child wearing the vest on a school bus seat

The safety harness has 4 loops – 2 on the top on either shoulder and 2 on the hip on either side. The child steps into the harness and puts their arms in through the arm holes. The harness zippers up in the back. On the bus already, there will be a strap that is attached to the back rest of the seat. On this strap there are 4 clips – 2 on the top and 2 on the bottom. When the child gets on the bus (already wearing the safety harness), the driver or aide will attach the 2 top clips to the 2 loops at the shoulder then attach the 2 bottom clips to the 2 loops at the hip. This is what will keep the child safely in their seat. The lap belt then will be buckled. If the child undoes the lap belt, they are still safe and secure because of the safety harness.

A child may out grow the need to wear a safety harness as they learn how to control and cope with their behaviors. As a school bus driver and aide, I have known childern who needed the the safety harness then no longer needed. I have also known childern who have always needed it for their entirety of their years at school. 

K still wears one to this day. There was a time when the school and I were trying to not have her wear the vest anymore. Her behavior was good on the bus to warrant her not to wear it. Then one day out of the blue, K had behaviors on the bus and tried to open the emergency door and actually did. So she went back into the safety harness for her own safety, the safety of the students, and for the safety of the driver and will always wear one from here on out.This happened during the 2014 – 2015 school year.

So I speak from experience as a mother of a child with special needs and behavioral issues, as well as a former school bus driver and aide – The safety harness is not an evil device to restain a child. The safety harness is meant to keep your child safe!

The Magic of Awareness 


The meaning of  awareness:

That magical moment when the light goes on and possibly there may be a life changing moment on the horizon!!! 

Especially when it happens to a child with like K!

I don’t know if it is a degree of maturity, the birth control pills, the right mix of her medications, the effect of her school, the influence of people at her group home, the almost nonexistenting and sporadic services of the current ABA company, or a little bit of the above.

Whatever it is …. I will take it and happy to take it! 

K (as previous post will show) has always had a history of violent aggressive behaviors and self injurious behaviors. 

But this past weekend gives me a small glimmer of hope with the new awareness that K seems to slowly be obtaining.

I was told this about K:

Instead of kicking the wall or doing any number of her aggressive behaviors, K has been asking this?

K: “Kick wall. What happens if K kicks wall?”

Then K will be told she will hurt her foot, loose x,y, and z, and that my fiance will be called.

K: “NOoooooOoooooOo!”

Then she can be redirected to something else to do.

Or other times this is self directed, for example:

K: “Kick wall. What happen when K kick wall?”

K: “K hurt foot. K loose ambulance. Call J.”

K: “Bad idea.”

Then she proceeds to do something else that is appropriate.

So to me this is HUGE! This new awareness K has regarding the negative behaviors! 

We can only wait and see where this postive insight will take her!!!

Hormones!!!! 

K has had her menses (her period) since July 2015 at the tender age of 10. She had it once, and then periodically has had it in the last few months.

She does not get it consistently becuase of age and being on Risperdal. Risperdal may surpress a female’s menses as a side effect of the medication – just FYI. 

K was recently place on birth control in May 2016 at my request. It is a low dosage of estrogen. 

She has had severe aggressive in the forms of self injurious behaviors, destroying property, and being violent to other people. Apart of this, I have to contribute to those lovely hormones that puberty causes to go all out of wack. We have figured the majority of the aggression is a week before she would get her cycle. It is much like sereve PMS but comes out in behaviors.

It took me a good year to find an gynecologist that would see my daughter at a young age. Her pediatrician would not prescribed the birth control, he said he would only renew the prescription.

Anyway, K has been on the birth control sine May. Her behavior has vastly improved since being on this medication. K still has her moments, but is able to be redirected. On occasion she may need to be restained but very rarely now. 

So, I am going to keep my fingers crossed and hope that this continues to work for her.

K was wonderful over 4th of July. Very calm and happy – she really had a good time!

K playing in the pool – practicing her water dance!
K learning how to play Bocce Ball with the family!

A few weekends ago, we went picking produce. K was not to into doing that. But she was fine – there were no dread meltdowns and she was able to wait to get ice cream!!!

So yes I will take any and all improvements! 

HOUR 11 – E.R Odyssey Contiunes PART 3

Outside is a beautiful day …
Blue skies with puffy white clouds. The kind of clouds that make you want to sit back in a field and stare at the sky. While trying to name the shapes of the varous clouds. A bit of a breeze blowing to take the edge off the heat. Today would be the perfect beach day … enjoy the waves with your childern, family and friends. A great day to be on the boardwalk playing games, riding rides or eating ice cream. A glorious day to go claming in the bay – then enjoy the days catch with a surf and turf bbq with loved ones.

But none of that is for Keri and I. I will get a 5 min glimance of the outside when I can get a chance to have a cigarette. Keri is stuck in room 34 in the E.R. We have gone over the 24 hours of being here. We will now be working on 48 hours!

Currently, she is resting peacefully from a drug induced sleep. Keri had another meltdown. John was barely unable to hold her down. I had to call the nurse in. The Doctor gave her a shot of Ativan to calm her. These hospital’s psychiatrist doctor prescribed over the phone an increase of her current meds. Keri will now receive 3 times a day .1 mg of clonidine, 2 times a day 200 mg of tegretol. The abilify will remain the same of 10mg 2 times a day.

Before this meltdown, I finally was able to speak with her primary psychiatrist Dr. L and the CMO Case Manager. Dr. L told me that because Keri’s meds have been changed so much that she needs to go into a psych unit in order to have any additional med changes monitored. That also it is too dangerous to just discharge her after the hospital doctor sees Keri. Dr. L also stated that this emergency room has an obligation to keep her until a bed has been found at a psych unit. Her CMO Case Manager said the same thing.

A different Mental Health Administrator came in to speak with me. She was very nice and explained the situation to me. Currently, Keri is scheduled to see the hospital psychiatrist Dr. Z. He is contacted with the hospital on an on call situation. Dr. Z will not be able to see Keri until 8 or 9 pm tonight. From there he will pressure what whatever place to find a bed for her. Ms.A (the mental health administrator) is in the process of calling places in this state and other states to find a bed. Yes, a bed out of state since no other hospital wants to take her or has an open bed.

You read that correct – a bed out of state in an out of state psych unit because there are hospitals in this state that are REFUSING to take her!!! From what Ms.A explained, a psych unit can deny acceptence for any reason like:

•Low IQ
•Non-verbal or limited communication skills
•Wears a diaper
•Certian diagnosises – like Autism, Bipolar, etc.
•The unit thinks the patient will not benefit from therapies offered at the facility.
•There is an over flow of a certian diagnosis ie: to many people with autism.
•Age despite a hospital’s website says the work with kids 5 and up.
•Insurance
•Or pretty much any damn reason the deem fit at any given moment.

So pretty much Keri and I are screwed at this moment. We will camp here at the hospital until a bed opens up.

But wouldn’t this be a form of medical discrimination? If a psych unit has an open bed and a patient is in need of it…
As long as the patient fits the basic criteria of the program – a child in a program for mental illness that is designed for childern regardless of the above. The same would go for an adult. Or maybe this state needs to open more inpatient facilities for people who autism or bipolor or whatever. It is not fair to have them sit in the emergency room for days at a time while in crisis until the parent who is too fusturated, stressed and tired and says to hell with it. Then have to take an unstable person home with no other resources to help them.

I will not be that person. I will not allow my daughter to slip through the cracks because no one want to help a child with autism/bipolar. I will not allow her to continue to hurt herself or me or other people. I will not allow either of us to become a tragic news story. I WILL CONTINUE TO ADVOCATE FOR HER AND GET HER HELP.

HOUR 11 – Emergency Room Visit Part 2

I left off that paper work had been filled out by me for Hospital M. I was waiting on transporting information.

Come to find out that Hospital M had additional questions about Keri.  Once the answers had been recieved by the Doctor at this hospital – they refused to admit her.

The mental health administrator at the ER said that said Hospital M felt that Keri was not a good fit. Also that Hospital T (a different hospital which Keri had stayed at with her first hospitalization) had no beds available. Hospital K and other programs refused to take her. Why? I will get to that in a moment. 

This administratior wants her to see their child psychiatrist, fo a med change and send her home. WTF!!!?!? SEND KERI HOME???

Not at this moment in time when she is a danger to herself and to others. I will camp out here all week until something can be found for her if I have too.

So some of the programs refused her based on age and medical conditions (autism, adhd, bipolar, and mild intellectual disability). So who do I hold accountable if when discharged Keri goes completely of the deep end and tries to kill herself, majorly hurts herself, or someone else… since I cannot get help for her? And with this you may wonder why some parents go off the deep end along with their kids and make the news – this might be the reason why!!!

But let me contiune from the point of refusal from last night … John and Maggie were here with me last night. Since, Keri and I had no other option, we stayed the night at the hospital. John and Maggie left since Keri was asleep and there was nothing to be done at that time.

I tried to fall asleep with 2 chairs pushed together and sitting up using a pillow against the wall for my head. I could not get comfortable not fall alseep. I also had a serious case of numb butt. A kind nurse brought a gurney in for me to sleep on. Not super comfy, but better then the chairs. I was able to get 4 hours of sleep.

I woke up at 7am. Keri was awake and ok for 5 mins. She then started to act up and climb the bed and get out of the bed. She started to smack on the computer in the room. I had to call the nurse’s station for help. Keri kept breaking away from my grip. In came 3 security guards to hold her down for at least 10 – 20 mins. Keri then got the “mega meds” to calm her –  a shot right to her arm.

It basically made her like a little drunk person. Keri had her morning meds minus the abilify. She slept for a little and woke up about 10:30am. She finally got her pill at 11 am about 4 hours after getting her first meds

Between 8 am and 10 am, I was on the phone calling her primary psychiatrist, her case manager for CMO. I was leaving messaves and trying to get
human or a supervisor that could help.

I will continue this in a new post … part 3. We have now been here for over 24 hours. And many more hours to go. Many days more perhaps…

DIAGNOSIS UNAWARE!!!

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Keri has been going to the same facility for about 3 years now to see a psychologist for medication management. Keri was officially  diagnosed with Autism in 2011 on her 6th birthday. (We knew the diagnosis beforehand through early intervention and child find at the age of 4. However, the school district could not give an “offical diagnosis”, but yet could place Keri into an Autism classroom -go figure!) In the fall of 2011, she was also diagnosised with ADHD.

In 2012, she was seen by a neurodelvepmental pediatrician at a different location of the same facility. There I was to follow up on Keri’s diagnosis of Autism one year later, as per the doctor who initially did the diagnosis. (Since we moved to a new state in 2011, we had to find a new neurodevelopmental pediatrician.) This visit was a complete was of time. The doctor spent all of 5 minutes with us. She asked why I made the appointment and I told her to follow up on Keri’s progress as per the previous doctor’s orders. The doctor said I was wasting her time, and that since Keri was being seen by a psychiatrist there was no point in seeing her. From that visit, I was leary about having Keri see any Neurodevelopmental Pediatrician.

However, I did set an appointment with a different Neurodevelopmental Pediatrician at the same location as her psychiatrist. Keri saw Dr. W this past Thursday. Which I will get into more detail  in a moment.

Either way, I have always been aware of my daughter’s diagnosises – Autism, ADHD, possible Mood Disorder-nos (from her hospitalization in 2014 – that Dr. B at the hospital was hesitant to diagnosis because of her Autism and limited speach),  and Expressive and receptive language disorder.

With that being said, regarding Keri’s appointment with Dr. W, overall the visit was good. This doctor spent nearly 2 hours with Keri. Dr. W ruled out dyslexia. She agreed with all of the prior diagnosises.

The one thing that disturbed me about the visit, is that Dr. W showed me the other diagnosises in the system. These extra diagnosises were NEVER discussed with me in the 3 years that Keri has gone to this facility!  Things that may have helped me to understand Keri’s behaviors better.

Intellectual Disability

More Information On Mild Intellectual Disability

This was from 2/2015 and I have never posted yet.

Diagnosis Code 296.7

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Two weeks ago, Keri scratched her arm up because she did not want to go to sleep. During that same week, she acted up on the bus – she refused to have her sealt belt on. Keri was then climbing all over the seats and hanging upside down – she did this twice. These two times, I was not on the bus, but she was with someone she was familiar with.

Last week, Keri has been a bit off the walls with her behavior. On Monday, she grabbed my upper right arm and squeezed – leaving a nice size bruise on my inner arm. Also, I have a few nice scratches to go along with it. This happened on her bus on the way home from school. Nothing really provoked other then the insistance of getting her ears peirced.

Tuesday morning, she was at her grandfather’s house before school – like every other morning for the past 4 years. She sat on his couch yelling and crying for 40 to 45 mins to “burn the house down” over and over again. (Yikes!!! She has never said that before!) All the while trying to bite her leg – which is another thing she has never done. I walked into this happening. Then she is ok on the bus and had a good day in school.

I called her psychiatrist to scheduled an emergency appointment for this past Wednesday.

The past three weeks, her behavior has been spotty at best. At first, I thought it was partly do to normal preteen/teen defiance, hormones, and the end of the school year. However it is more then that…

Wednesday, I took Keri to her doctor’s appointment. In the car, Keri was calm but kept saying “Burn the house down”. I asked her “Who’s house?” She then said “Granddad’s”. When asked why, Keri responded “Because police are mad!”.

We got to the doctor’s only to hear from the nurse and the doctor “I have never seen her like this.” The doctor also said if her behavior continues like this, then I will need to take Keri and have her hospitalized.

In the mean time, the doctor diagnosised Keri with Bipolar. Keri was prescribed a new medications of tegretol.

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The pharmacy was unable to fill the new prescription on Wednesday. So Keri had to wait until Thursday to get the new medication.

Thursday, on the bus in the way home, Keri had another hard ride. She started to kick the metal divide and kicked it hard enough to make it pop out. Then she started to scratch and bite me. I had to restrain for the rest of the bus ride.

When we got home, she had the first dose of her new medicine. So far we are now on day 5 of the new meds. It has not helped. She is off in her own little world and seems worse. 

But this new diagnosis helps to explain the highs and lows in her behaviors. It is made more difficult with Keri’s already existing diagnosises of Autism, ADHD, and the mild intellectual disability.