Transitions, especially getting on and off the bus, have been tricky for my son, Garrett, who was born with Smith-Magenis Syndrome. I have written about getting on the school bus (see this blog post here), but the getting home part has been much harder (see Part I and Part II ).
Just like the prize box, the sticker eventually lost its appeal. Finding something “enticing” enough to get Garrett to (1) walk down the bus steps, (2) out the bus door, (3) turn and wave to the bus in a gentlemanly manner, (4) walk down our driveway and (5) open the front door while keeping said door on its hinges is key to the whole process. If left to his own devices, the daily bus return looks like a scene out of The Exorcist.
Like all my best ideas, the last (still working!) trick came from another SMS mom. We were talking about the difficult issues with our kids during a “Mom’s Tea” at the PRISMS conference. This brilliant lady bought the pre-packaged hot coco mixes and gave them to the bus driver. Each day, the driver would give her son one package that he carried into the house, heated up water and made his own hot chocolate drink. And, best of all, no words had to be exchanged. Genius!
Garrett does not like hot drinks, but he is obsessed with chocolate milk. So much so, that we no longer keep it in the house or he will drink the entire gallon in a few hours. It is a real treat for him to have chocolate milk and this would be the perfect “new trick”.
My first purchase was the chocolate straw.
This would be a double treat because I do not keep straws in the house (too many episodes of overflowing bubbles). I bought 5 packs, enough to last a whole month and I slipped them out to the driver when Garrett wasn't looking.
First day, it worked like a charm.
Garrett came running down the driveway.
“Look what Heather gave me!” he shouted.
“Get a glass of milk and let’s see what happens,” I answered.
He went straight to the kitchen and poured a tall glass of milk. He took a big gulp. And, turned around and spit it out all over the counter.
“Too crunchy! Too crunchy!” He rubbed his tongue with his fingers.
“I don’t like it! I don’t like it!” He told me…just in case I misinterpreted the disgusting milk spit on my counter.
I looked at the straw.
It was full of tiny milk chocolate powder that was formed into balls. When the white milk was sucked up in the straw, it would turn chocolaty. Garrett would not taste the powder at all.
“Look, Garrett. The balls stay inside the straw.” I picked up the straw and squeezed it.
“Too loud! Too loud!” He covered his ears.
His mind was made up. The chocolate straws were a no go…and there was no getting around it. (Good thing I knew he would love it and bought a whole month’s supply.)
The only other option was to create my own chocolate milk pack.
I bought the snack sized bags and put 2 scoops of Quick powder mix in each bag.
It has gotten to the point where I no longer have to give the baggies to the driver. Garrett is doing pretty well at getting off the bus. Most days, Garrett will come to the kitchen and make his own drink with the liquid Quick mix (which is kept locked in the fridge).
However, we are still working on the "appropriate" amount of syrup….