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!

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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

Keri had a complete and total meltdown earlier today. So here we are at the E.R working on hour 11. They have found her a bed or are working on finding her a bed at a pediatric psych unit.

Earlier today, Keri was agitated – for what reason is unknown. It started out with being upset and screaming and lost in her own little world. Her Granddad came over, Keri wanted nothing to do with him. All she did was grunt and scream in response to him.

About an hour or so after Keri’s Grandad left, she started to meltdown. Crying, screaming, trying to over turn the table in the kitchen. She knocked over a chair before flinging herself onto the couch. Once on the couch her rage did not stop. Keri continued with the self harm. She was pulling her hair. Keri was scratching herself – but left little to no marks since her nails had been recently cut. She was biting her arms. She then looked at her wrist and said “bite wrist” and proceeded to gnaw at her wrist.

I tried to talk her down, but she did not heed or hear my words. I tried to get in to restain her. But she was linging at me, trying to scratch me, bite me, hit and kick. Keri actually kicked me off the couch.  There was no way for me to get close to her. Keri also knocked items off the end table and threw the small drawer to the end table.

A while ago, Keri cracked the one of the windows by the couch and there are 2 other windows in the same area. I was afraid that she would further hurt herself or break a window or hurt me. There was no choice but to call 911.

The cops came, Keri stopped and was too busy staring at them. She was ok in the ambulance. In the hospital, she started to act up. They gave her a shot of something to calm her. Once Keri was calm, the nurse took blood samples and a urine sample.

While on this shot of whatever, Keri was still with her “not so great smile and laugh” and grunting. The agresstion was gone. Later on when this med wore off, Keri started to try to pinch, bite, and hit me. When she realized she could not get to me, Keri started to try to climb the bed. I could not get her down and had to call the nurse in. At this point neither the nurse nor I could get her settled down. The nurse had to call in another nurse and 2 security guards to help restain her. There were 2 nurses, 2 security guards, and me – 5 people having to restrain her!!! 5 people to hold down a preteen girl who weighs 108 lbs and is 4 ft 7 inches tall!!!

My sister Maggie and John walked in as this 5 people restaining scenario played on The doctor gave her Ativan instead of the other medication. This calmed her and got her to finally go to sleep.

Come to find out … there was one hospital that I will call Hosptial M had agreed to take Keri. I filled out the paper work to have Keri transported. 

I will write more tomorrow since it is 3 am. And a kind nurse just brought in a stretcher in for me to sleep on. Trying to sleep sitting up right in 2 chairs pushed together is uncomfortable to the highesr degree.

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.

What an Autism Parent wants you to understand

Sometimes people are selfish and cannot think beyond themselves.

However, this way of thinking needs to stop when it comes into the context of parents who have childern with autism.

I do not mean that parents with childern who have autism are selfish.

The way I mean this is that people on the outside of the whole autism household are sometimes selfish and cannot think beyond themselves.

I was recently subjected to such selfishness by my boyfriend’s sister.

This post is to hopefully help those on the outside of the autism household to better understand the workings of an autism household. Also to get these same people to break away from the “me” focused thinking and see beyond themselves.

So let me get down to the story and add some insight…

John’s sister (who I will call Anna) moved back a few years ago with her then husband. At that time, John was still living in his old childhood home. His sister and then husband moved into the same house with John. Anna’s marriage did not work out and they divorced. Her ex-husband moved out and back to whatever state he was from.

Anna quickly met another man (Drew). From there, Drew moved in and Anna got pregnant. Anna had a son named Eddie.

At first Anna was fine with Keri’s autism.  I explained how Keri was and how her behaviors could be. Anna has seen first hand how Keri can be and how I have to handle her meltdowns.

Also once Eddie was born, Anna seemed to get more skittish with having Keri around her son. I understand Anna’s line of thought since my daugher can be violent. So I have made it a point not to bring Keri over if she is having a hard day. But I do this anytime Keri is having a hard day. There have been a number of things that Keri and I were going to do with my boyfriend, or my family, other friends, or just going to the park, store or any other place that have had to be cancelled because of Keri having an overly aggressive and violent day. So Anna is not being singled out in anyway … this is routine for Keri and I.

So to get to the point, Anna is moving out west with her family in the next week or so. John went over there with his daughter  (April) yesterday. He did this so April could see her aunt and cousin before the move. Keri and I were suppose to go too. But some old story, Keri has had an aggressive and violent week. So with the bite marks and bruises on my arms from my daughter, I made the decision not to go.

So since I decided not to go over, Anna told John “I guess Sandy (me) doesn’t care enough to come over and see us before we move”.

That comment is where the selfishness and not seeing beyond one’s self comes into play.

Anna simply does not see beyond herself to understand this fact …

AUTISM AND THE MANY MOODS/ BEHAVIORS DECIDES WHAT MY DAUGHTER AND I CAN DO.

Trust me, I would **LOVE** the ability and freedom of having the choice to go out and do things both as a family, with Keri, with John, or by myself. This is something that people or people with neurotypical childern take for granted.

AGAIN AUTISM DICTATES MY LIFE CHOICES!

This is a list of things that happens regularly in my life that these people need to understand. ..

*Finding a babysitter is extremely hard and costly. I cannot just find some teen ager that is responsible and good with childern. Keri needs someone who understands autism, especially the aggressive and violent tendencies. This person needs to know how to handle her when she gets that way. Hence the specialized care is costly, and I cannot afford it. My sister is exellent with Keri and is the only person who can handle her. So I may get out maybe once a month.

*If Keri is having major difficulties with her behavior, all plans existing or else wise are canceled.  Sorry, but it makes life easier for Keri and myself for her to have her meltsowns in the privacy of our own home. I do not have to worry about what damage Keri may do to someone else’s property or to another person.

*Going anywhere is a challenge – Keri’s mood changes moment from moment. Driving can be a challenge because she has thrown stuff at me and attacked me while driving down the road. She has acted out in stores and out in public. At those times, its easier to stay local.

*These decisions of staying local or cancelling plans has no reflection on how I feel about a person. It is the fact that I am putting my child first, because her needs outweigh anything else in this world.

*I miss out a lot in life because of putting Keri first. I cannot run out with a group of friends for a drink or go see a movie. I cannot go out as a family with John, April, and Keri with out first seeing how Keri is going to be. John and I cannot go out as a couple with out first planning months and months in advance. More often then not, John and April will do things with out us. John will go out with out me. Spontaneously going out is extremely rare. Going anywhere by myself barely ever happens other then quickly going to a local store. But this my life.

*I have many scars, bites, bruises, and scratches on my arms from Keri’s meltdowns.

* My daughter may never do certian things like have a boyfriend, drive, get married, have a job, live on her own let alone be left on her own, go to college – etc.

*I may not sleep very well if Keri decides not to sleep at night.

I am sure I am missing something. However,  you get the idea. My life is hard. I do not want pity. I just want  understanding. I do not want to miss out on life,  I do not want people to think I do not like them and do not want to see them.

Just stop the selfish thinking and look beyond yourself.