I wrote this lament on an old geometry text Monday afternoon.

As I waited for T to come home, I felt frustrated over the latest bus and home happenings.

Many people villainize a difficult child. When our life spins into outbursts and misbehavior, I need to look hard for the underlying reasons and not succumb to popular thinking.

I decided:

1. School is stressful for Tyoma.
2. Sensory overload is prevalent during stress/illness.
3. Acting out comes from sensory overload.
4. Visual methods work best to identify and solve overload issues.

Monday morning I thought everything was under control. We discussed the bus and not being mean to peers. He had complained about a girl and shouted insults at her last week.

We wrote down a plan and I told social stories.

Yet, T melted down the moment the bus arrived. He went berserk. Picking up handfuls of pine needles he threw them, laughing hysterically.

I managed to get him on the bus only for him to throw a fistful of pine needles at the girl.

I was beyond shocked. A small melee erupted.  I put Tyoma in an “escort hold” and marched him to his seat. He screamed and laughed the whole way.

As I left, I stopped to apologise to the poor child.  Tears were on her cheeks. Tyoma howled at top volume behind us as I apologised. I told her that T would write her a nice note and that sometimes he has a hard time going to school.

The situation confused me. Initially, T had been quite affectionate with her. A week after their old bus was switched to a wheelchair-lift bus, T became surly.

I spent the rest of the day Doing Something About It. I called his SPED teacher. I called (and called!) my mom and husband. I walked in circles, worried and felt sorry for myself. Then I wrote my note.

The bus was late coming home from school. I climbed on to hear Tyoma shrieking. It was as if his day was one long drawn-out irrepressible scream.

The driver announced, “We’re late because he had a hard time getting on the bus. He gave his para a real hard time.”

His paraeducator had strapped him in his seat Hannibal Lector style. For one dumb moment I stared down at him.

 “Eee-eeuuuughhh! Uuuuuuuuh! Heheheeeee! I want out!!! EEEEEEEEeeeee! Hahahahahaha!”

It was almost comical. Then it became comical. I couldn’t figure out how to unstrap him so we wrestled and became ensnared in the seatbelt. I bonked my head and he stepped on my nose.

 “EEEEEEEEEEEEeee! UUUUUhhhhhhh! Hahahahahahahahahhhahha!”

I fully expected him to bite me.

The rest of the afternoon went as expected.

Fretting over the whole situation, I didn’t sleep well that night.

Tuesday morning, We went through the same ritual as before. But this time, when I wrote:

“If you don’t like someone, do not be mean to them.”

I added:

“Do this instead:
1. Ignore them.
2. Act nice.
3. Be nice.”

I explained that the three numbers are levels you climb like stairs: Number one means to do no harm, Two is to act friendly, and three is to understand and have empathy for the person. . As you get older you master each one, I explained. He soberly attended my lecture.

I told him that he can avoid being silly by using a similar method. We can use levels and numbers. I outlined a bus plan:

1. Walk to bus.
2. When you get on the bus, look at the floor.
3. Count the steps to your seat.
4. Count the seconds as I buckle you in.
5. All done, say goodbye.

As I made the bus list , I ignored the girl and focused on my sensory perceptions of the bus.

When I step onto the new bus, I feel crowded by the close aisles. The well-meaning bus driver usually greets us loudly. I I never understand what she says. Students crowd the first row and chatter at us. The aisles seem to lean inward, their strangely tall seats adding a claustrophobic effect. At the back of the bus, a large empty space produces jarring echos.

If I feel this, how does T feel? Similar. How do I cope with a raucous environment? I look at the floor and occupy my mind with something else.

Voila. Our list worked.

And I got help. I burn so much energy fretting about these situations that it is a good idea to recruit support. I am looking forward to solving some more problems.

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