Special needs: My daughter's first school bus ride

When it comes to parenting a special-needs child, sometimes even the tiniest milestones are the most significant.

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Syona takes her first ride on the school bus. Photo: Anchel Krishna

Last week was a big one in our house with Syona heading to junior kindergarten. In addition to all the huge emotions that come from sending your kid off to school alone, our family also experienced another major milestone—Syona’s first school bus ride.

Parenting a child with special needs comes with some unique challenges. But parents of kids with special needs face a lot of the same challenges and celebrate the same milestones as any other parent, and watching my child get on the bus was definitely one of those moments.

We had prepped Syona during the summer for the fact that she would be going on the bus by herself. Anytime we were on the road and saw a yellow school bus, we’d point it out and tell her that she would go on one in the fall. It was something that she actually got excited about, often sharing that she would “go on a yellow bus, all by myself” when someone would mention anything related to school. I was actually more nervous about Syona taking the bus than I was about her starting kindergarten. I knew that Syona was ready for school—she needed to be around other kids, and I knew that once she was settled into her new routine she would flourish.

The bus, however, was a whole different story. Syona’s never been a great car traveller. As an infant, she wouldn’t sleep in her car seat and would proceed to cry hysterically whenever we would get into the car. As she got older and more mature, she stopped crying when we went out for a drive. But she still wouldn’t sleep. Last year, we tested our luck with a road trip. I wondered how Syona would fare when faced with an hour-long bus trip home at the end of the day when she was tired.

When the driver pulled up to our house to take Syona to school (a few minutes early to allow for us first-time, overexcited parents to take plenty of pictures), my mind was put at ease. Syona’s driver rocks. She is extremely friendly, very knowledgeable and took the time to properly introduce herself to Syona. Syona loved the lift that carries her wheelchair stroller onto the bus, but I could tell once her wheelchair stroller got clicked into place she felt a little uncomfortable. So we took a moment to reassure her that it was safe, everything was OK and she was going to have so much fun.

Read more: What it’s like to have a child in a wheelchair>

At the end of the day, her driver reported that she did really well on the bus. An added bonus is that there are two other kids with her on the rides. On Friday, Syona cried a little on the way home (we expected this to happen at some point because we know this whole school thing is a big transition for her). When she came home, both Syona and the driver informed us that she cried a little, but one of the other kids on the bus comforted her and told her it would be OK. Syona listened and calmed down soon after.

A pretty heartwarming start to Syona’s school journey.

Follow along as Anchel Krishna shares her experiences as mother to Syona, an extraordinary toddler with cerebral palsy. Read all of Anchel’s Special-needs parenting posts and follow her on Twitter @AnchelK.

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