School transport has been a major source of stress for me over the years.
In the 11 years, my non-speaking autistic son has had to get transport to nursery or school the provider has changed every single year.
So every single year he’s had to get used to a new car, new driver, new escort, new route and different children with him as well as different pick-up times and drops offs.
For a child who seriously struggles with change, this causes so much distress every single year.
This year when we finally met the new driver and vehicle my heart sank once again.
The vehicle this year was a large car where some of the seats were rear facing!
My son would be picked up last and would be allocated whatever seat was available even if this didn’t face forwards.
I gently explained that he has a huge mass in his brain and travelling rear-facing would make him sick.
I discussed his impaired vision and why he needs to sit at one side as his other eye has no vision at all.
I told them he is epileptic and can’t communicate verbally that he was struggling and he wouldn’t be seen in the mirror if facing backward.
While the driver nodded to all this I really wasn’t sure how things would go.
But what I had no idea about was there would be a girl in his taxi who would change everything!
As the taxi pulled up outside my house for his first day back and the doors were slid open the first thing my son heard was an excited older girl’s voice:
“Oh it’s Isaac! Driver you have to be careful with Isaac. Let me help him!”
And before anyone could do anything else she got out of her seat and supported my son into the vehicle, strapped him in, welcomed him and even gave up her own seat and sat facing backward herself!
It’s a lovely story of kindness and humanity but what is even more significant is that the girl in the taxi has learning difficulties and complex needs herself!
There are so many assumptions made about people with learning difficulties. They are too often overlooked and undervalued by society.
Next time you perhaps meet someone who is struggling with something, requires extra support or you know has learning difficulties just remember the girl in my son’s taxi.
The care, compassion and kindness she radiated should never ever be forgotten.
Today my autistic non-speaking son with very high needs laughed in excitement while he waited for his school transport.
My worries as his mum will always be there but knowing he has someone in his taxi looking out for him makes my heart sing.
To the girl in his taxi: thank you for teaching so many of us to see beyond someone’s struggles and instead see their capabilities and ability to touch other lives.