Yes. I rode that bus all the way up to 8th grade. Believe it or not, it was one of my favorite experiences!
There was rarely any bullying directed at me, once I got on the bus. It was a relief after spending a long horrible day with my “typical” peers. Many of the “special” kids on the bus would do anything to have a friend, so none wanted to lose that opportunity by being mean. But I regret to say that the “mildly-affected” kids (even me) did tease the nonverbal children. While my bus drivers never allowed it, it took me years to realize that my nonverbal peers understand far more than anyone gives them credit for. It was not until I watched Amanda Baggs’ videos, when I started to see my hypocrisy and “Aspie supremacy” attitude.
The “special” bus always made sure I got inside my house before leaving. My parents always worked hard and were rarely in the house before 5pm. I did have a house key, but did not commit to taking it with me. I had to count on my older brother being in the house. If he listened to loud music, he would not hear the doorbell. If no one answered, the bus driver would take me back on the bus and drop off another child until I was the last to be dropped off. Fortunately, none of my bus drivers were the kind of sick monsters who would take children to their own house.
Most of all, my friends and I gained interaction skills just by chatting with our bus drivers. They were always friendly people with interesting stories to share; often they talked about things that the district would not have allowed! I will never forget the man who would “argue” with me about the color of rabbits. He would always bring up the time when he drank champagne and saw bunnies in every color of the rainbow. Years later, another driver was very open to talking about numbers with me. The number 40 was her favorite, as it was referenced frequently in the Bible. Yet she did not like those three 6’s. She was quite happy that day when I finally dropped my fixation on that number. The next year, my final driver told me that “what you see in the news, is always bad news.” Though I did not agree with his defense of Republicans, he was spot-on when I told him about the “Autism Every Day” video.
Now imagine how different my life would have been have I taken the regular bus. Despite having “special” branded on top of many other insults, I was better off on that “short bus” than any other mode of transportation.