Say Goodbye to the Short Bus
You know the one. It's smaller than all the others and has the old school handicapped sticker on the side. I hate that word, handicapped. I can't see that blue wheelchair and not think of it though and that bugs me. It's the bus that is accessible for wheelchairs, you may say, it's not that big of a deal.
My son, three year old Amos, can walk just fine and our kind school district welcomes him onto the "regular" bus. It's not a matter of pride, but convenience. It has a couple five point harness seat belts so Amos can ride with his brothers and sister and everyone else. Sometimes it's nice to be like everybody else. Don't get me wrong, special needs are awesome but not getting special treatment is pretty nice too.
Make school buses safer, everyone says. What if we made all the school buses simply the same from now on? Is it too expensive? Seat belts and wheelchair ramps on all buses, all too much to ask for our kids. What about their mamas? What about inclusion and looking for ways to mainstream those kids with extra special needs? If there is no short bus, then there's no short bus stigma. Maybe it is just that easy.
I speak to you as a spectator, not just a Mama. Amos sits on the first seat of the big yellow school bus most every afternoon. He giggles when his biggest brother helps undo his seatbelt. His other brother gets his talker and his sister gets his backpack. I climb up the stairs to get Amos and he squeals at the very sight of me and then, happy in my arms, he waves and says "Bye" to everyone.
"Bye Amos," they call back. Those voices make my heart so happy, born from a group of children who have come to adore the small boy who though is not like the others, they know he's more than enough.