Today began much the same as yesterday, except we walked out to the bus. Nico has always had a special needs bus, a "short bus," pick him up, and for the last year it was right in front of our house. We'd watch the neighbor kids gather at the bus stop from our porch, but Nico took the special bus.
I knew that had to change, because riding happily on a bus with other kids is in fact one of Nico's skills, but let it play out over the first year. Still, I saw the opportunity for inclusion and our special ed director agreed. The plan was for Nico's aide to meet us at the bus stop and ride the bus back to her car at the end of the school day for as long as necessary.
I really don't think it's going to be necessary for long.
We walked towards the stop with a little resistance. Nico really just wanted to go for a walk somewhere, or maybe walk to his old school down the block (it's a middle school where they also held early childhood). But we arrived on the corner and Nico walked quickly by the other kids, did recognize his aide (but didn't say hi), and from a few feet away crouched down and waited. Isolated again.
Until the neighbor girl, H., who knows Nico got to the stop. She walked right over to him and hugged him, and asked if he wanted to come meet her friends. Nico crouched down again and H. ran back to her friends to say hello and pose for pictures. So, that was nice, I thought, but he still doesn't want to go.
But then H. came back to Nico again and kept talking to him, leaning out to point out the bus as it arrived, then taking his hand and getting Nico in to line. Nico briefly held his aide's hand too, then got onto the bus, walked to the middle, climbed into a chair, and H. sat down next to him. The bus goes around the block then drives past again, so a few minutes later H.'s mother and I saw them sitting together, waving, as they headed off towards school.
This is going to work. By next week, it will become normal. By the week after that, I bet we can ditch the aide. It's not a long bus ride anyway.