Meeting Mr. Driver and Mrs. Aide

Wow, today’s visit from the school driver and Javan’s new aide went so much better than expected! When they first arrived, along with the special education coordinator and behavior specialist, his anxiety got the best of him and he kicked me a few times, threw a shoe at my head (he missed, thankfully), and kicked the special education coordinator. He told them to shut up if they spoke to him and was just ugly in general. That all lasted less than five minutes, and then he was suddenly up talking happily with them and offering to show them his playroom.

I’m tired of calling them “the special needs coordinator,” “the driver,” and all that, so I’m naming them for blog purposes. Not very creatively, mind you, because I want y’all to be able to easily remember who I’m talking about. The aide will now be Mrs. Aide, the driver Mr. Driver, the behavior specialist Mrs. Behavior  (lol), and so on. The only one who will get an actual name is the special education coordinator, who I’ll name Mrs. Angel because she’s the one who’s been the most involved in helping us make this whole thing work and she’s got a heart of gold.

So anyway, he took Mr. Driver and Mrs. Aide to his playroom where he talked, laughed, and entertained them on his own for probably close to ten minutes. I caught pieces of the conversation from where I sat at the kitchen table and smiled to hear him talking excitedly and lovingly about his Grammy, Weebo, and Pops. He also showed them his super cool loft bed and hammock in his bedroom and explained how Rosco gets in bed with him at night. Then he led them outside and when I asked if he wanted me to come with him he said, “Naaahhh,” and took them outside for about another ten minutes. By himself. Out of the house. Happily.

When they came back in, Mrs. Aide told me they’d all shared a game of basketball and he’d shown them how he rides his green machine bike. He’d also shown them Dad’s motorcycle and told them all about the time Dad crashed when he hit a dog in the road. Javan then turned on YouTube and showed Mrs. Aide and Mrs. Angel some music videos of his favorite Equestria Girls and My Little Pony songs. I recognized this as a high sign of trust, because he is usually very secretive about his love of My Little Pony. He typically doesn’t want anyone to know he likes it because as many times as I try to convince him otherwise, he thinks it’s a “girl show.” But he didn’t mind these people knowing. He even sang along with the songs right in front of them! They definitely got to see his sweet side.

I did get the opportunity to discuss with Mrs. Angel my disappointment over the complete lack of services being offered to Javan. No speech therapy and no occupational therapy are being provided, despite the evaluations showing great needs in these areas. She agreed that he does need services in those areas and told me that the speech and occupational therapists both felt that he would benefit greatly from therapies. However, they all agree that he needs to get comfortable just being in school first and that for now every day at school needs to be completely predictable and routine for him, so having certain days where he’s pulled out of the classroom for this therapy or that one could hinder the acclimation process. That actually makes a lot of sense to me. I’m comforted knowing that they do plan to provide speech and occupational therapy when he’s ready. The evaluation had failed to note that, so I’d just assumed those services would not be offered in the present or the future.

My gut tells me that Mrs. Aide and Mr. Driver are every bit as miraculously compassionate, capable, and competent as the other members of this school team have been. Mr. Driver has been with the school district for 14 years and obviously goes above and beyond to support the students he helps. He’s a regular bus driver and he’s even started a choir with the kids who ride his bus. How unique is that!? He gave me permission to share his bus choir’s Facebook page. You can visit it by going to the “Bus #21 Choir” Facebook page. The choir performs at churches, nursing homes, and community events. Talk about dedication! I mean, I had some really great and memorable bus drivers growing up (Bus 19 forever!), but even they never invested in me outside of the school bus setting.

Mr. Driver also drives high school students to work and to cash their paychecks if needed. If students ask him to come to their track meet or football game or other extracurricular events, he tries to go and support them there too, ever aware of the sad fact that many kids don’t have family members who can support them that way. He has 6 kids and 18 grandkids of his own! He’s a deacon at his church and invests regular time in the youth there. Over the years, he’s also had experience with lots of kids like Javan who need to be brought to school individually, and is quite comfortable physically “helping” reluctant children into the vehicle.

Throughout his visit, he exuded joy. He said that anytime a new student comes into his life, it feels like Christmas Day because he knows he’s going to get to watch and help that child bloom and grow. I know I’ve been overly emotional lately, with all that’s going in, but I’m actually tearing up with thankfulness over this man that’s come into my child’s life. God is providing for us in miraculous ways. I try not to get too religios in my posts so that my blog is accessible to everyone, but in my mind there’s just no way a group of people this good came together by chance. I am especially convinced of that after our experience with this same school district a mere five years ago was so very negative.

Mrs. Aide seems like a perfect fit as well. I can’t remember how long she said she’s been teaching, but she’s no newbie. She and her husband moved here from Alabama several years ago for a job opportunity for him (she’s got a really cute southern drawl), and she’s been a substitute for the district here for many years. She told the administration that of all the classrooms she’s subbed in, the life skills class was by far her favorite. She’s just drawn to special needs students and loves making heart to heart connections with them. She asked that if a permanent position ever became available in that room, that they’d consider her for the position. And a position just became available, so here she is! She has two daughters, one who is in middle school in this district, and a 6 year old granddaughter. This may sound weird, but I was really happy with her body type. I was worried they’d hire a small aide that might not be strong enough to physically handle him or who might get hurt easily. Mrs. Aide is by no means fat, but she looks sturdy and strong and in no danger of falling apart. Y’all don’t laugh; it’s important!

During our visit, Mrs. Angel realized that I’d never received a student enrollment packet and Mrs. Behavior suggested that I come get it today and Javan could come into the side entrance to the school, which is what he’ll do every school day since it’s less busy and loud than the main entrance and closer to his classroom. The more practice he gets going to the school, she explained, the easier this transition will be.

As everyone left, Javan went out and saw the large SUV they’ll pick him up in. He opened the back door and looked in, but didn’t want to get inside. Then he opened the front door and tooted the horn repeatedly. He then opened the back door for Mrs. Aide to get in and opened the front door to let Mr. Driver in. Such a gentleman! He waved goodbyes as they left.

We went back inside to get ready to take Dad back to work and go visit the school, and Javan said remorsefully, “You mean were going to the same place as them? I could be gone with them!” I was surprise and asked if he would have wanted to go with them and he quickly realized what he’d said and shook his head no. He does not want to go to school at all, but I see so many signs that he might actually enjoy it if he can get past his anxieties.

We dropped Dad off and made the 20 minute drive to the school where we met Mrs. Behavior, who showed us to the side door where Mrs. Aide was waiting to let us in. We went straight to the sensory room, like he will do on an actual school day, and he immediately went to the tricycles. I told him I was going to walk down to the office, grab the enrollment packet, and come straight back. I was in the office for maybe 30 seconds before he and Mrs. Aide showed up. He was not letting me out if his sight. Well, I tried.

We then visited the life skills room and briefly met Mrs. Teacher and Mrs. AideToo. I didn’t have a chance to do more than a cursory introduction because Javan was not as happy in this room with the new environment, new teachers, and four other students. He did play briefly with a Ninja Turtle toy and was interested in the light up bubble column in the cool down/sensory area. He didn’t want to stay, and we didn’t want to force it. As we headed out, we saw and were greeted warmly by Mrs. Principal. I get the feeling that she sees everything that happens in her school. Nothing gets by her. She seems very involved with and protective of her students. I like her.

As we left he made sure to repeatedly shout to Mrs. Aide and Mrs. Behavior, “See ya later, losers!” Not the best ending to the visit, but it was mostly positive, so I’ll take it!

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