Making the “Short” Bus Cool

Shared from GoFundMe

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Michael Beers grew up in Missoula, MT riding the “short bus” to school.  Today Michael works at Summit Independent Living in Missoula as the Youth Transitions Coordinator.  He spends his days encouraging and supporting young people in our commmunity as they prepare for life after high school.  In addition, he travels our state and the country spreading the positive word of Disability Advocacy to students, parents and professionals.  He has always had a dream of touring using a “short bus” as transportation.

We have been searching for a bus for a long time.  On March 25, 2016 we found one in Missoula.  The owner has given us a great deal on the bus.  It will need new tires and some work but it is a solid vehicle.

We are asking you, our friends, to help us buy and refurbish this bus and then follow us on Facebook as we take it on the road encouraging young people with a disability to pursue their dreams.

#TheShortBus Flashblog: A Second Chance

I apologize to everyone who has been unable to write a topic before the deadline back in January. Unfortunately, the flash blog was not as successful as I have hoped it would be. In fact, because I have seen so few people showing immediate interest, I planned to put it off until next time it would become relevant (perhaps the next school year starting August/September of 2015). Yet on Facebook, the people who were interested were wondering what happened to my original plan.

I know there is at least one person who really wanted to write, but did not get a chance to submit anything for this round. You know who you are. If you are still interested, I will give you until September, which is a lot of time from now. The same goes for any other bloggers who wish to participate.

To those of you who have already written, thank you so much for participating and doing your part to spread the word.

So you rode the “short bus”?

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.

#StopShortBusShame

#ProudShortBusRider

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Dressed as Cleopatra near my middle school bus stop (Halloween, 2004)

#TheShortBus Flashblog: A Positive Experience

Originally posted on Tonia Says:

I rode the short bus my entire school life, and while I was keenly aware of an otherness – a sense of being different and separate – the experience in and of itself was not a negative one.  In fact, I still recall the faces of some of the drivers, aides and fellow passengers with fondness.

I remember Charlie, who drove the bus in when I was in second grade, and who was so concerned when my sis fell out of her seat into the aisle, thanks to a seat belt that was too loose.  I remember Bob, the aide on the bus I rode in fourth grade, who never minded when my sis and I sang songs from Disney movies the entire ride to school. Continue reading

#TheShortBus Flashblog: Where I Began to Learn Humility

Originally posted on Musings of an Agender Ace Autistic:

When I was in high school, I rode the short bus, and amazingly, it wasn’t a bad experience. I happened to live near two group homes where there lived several students who had Down syndrome, and the driver was a wonderful person.

I was the only person on that bus who didn’t have Down’s.The ostensible reason for me being there was that I was legally blind, hence I was assigned to a school up quite far north from where I lived at the time. I had been used to long bus rides to school ever since kindergarten because the Seattle School District concentrated us Disabled students into one or two schools per age group. This meant that all the students with Downs, all the students who used wheelchairs or other mobility devices, all the Blind students, and all the students with learning disabilities — in fact all Disabled high school students, except, oddly, for the Deaf students — went to my high school. Continue reading

#TheShortBus Flashblog: Notes from a Short Bus Veteran

Originally posted on That Crazy Crippled Chick:

From the day my mother put me on a bus to a “special needs” preschool at three years old to the day I graduated high school, I rode the short bus.  While my older sister walked down the block to the bus stop, I got door to door service, for fifteen years.  Even now, I use paratransit, a service my best friend Kathleen affectionately calls “the distant cousin of the short bus”.  If there’s such thing as a short bus expert, I’m probably your girl.

When you ride the short bus, everything becomes intensely personal.  Riding the bus every day with only three or four others, plus the driver and aide, creates a strange sort of intimacy.  Whether you particularly like the others on the bus with you or not, you become a family.  Newcomers are regarded with an uneasy distrust.  The other short bus riders can become your best friends or your worst enemies, sometimes both at once.  Some of my best memories were made on that odd little bus, with our merry band of freaks.  Conversely, so were some of my worst.

Me and my friends Kim and Angelique, short bus sisters, circa 2009.

Continue reading