Shorted on the Short Bus

Listen.  Autism involves a lot of urinary incontinence, poop-flinging and sometimes it’s just plain old messy.

I know this will sound crazy but I was blessed by a puddle of pee yesterday and I am praying you will read this and receive the good juju from it as well.

RM has been potty-training at school for the last month or so and has found a great deal of success.  However, toileting is a long process for many of our kids with autism so RM wears underwear during the school day but wears a pull-up to prevent accidents while she is riding the van back and forth.

The other day RM came home from school completely soaked.  She had left school in underwear instead of a pull-up.  A minor oversight.  Nothing to freak out over.

I sent a text message to the van monitor and asked her to check the car seat to see if it was wet.  It was.  The van came back by and I grabbed the car seat out of the back so that I could wash the cover before school the next morning.

By the time the van pulled away again I was shaking.  I had turned the seat over to take off the cover and on the label found the manufacture date – 1998!  My child had been riding in a car seat that was several years past expiration.  Did you know car seats expire?   AND I learned that my daughter was TEN pounds and FOUR inches over its limit.  I. WAS. PISSED.

I called the transportation company and spoke to “Candy”, the manager.  I had previously spoken to her about a proper child safety seat for RM way back in April, a week before she started at her current school.  I had given this woman RM’s height and weight and advised her that RM needed a 5-point-harness seat rated for up to at least 65 pounds.  She said, ‘Absolutely’.

Pay close attention to what I am about to admit to, because I pray no one else falls into this trap themselves.

From the first day the van arrived to take my child to school, more than 15 miles away through three towns and over two major highways, I had my doubts that the seat RM was riding in was the right one for her.  But I said nothing to the company about the seat she was given because I wanted to start off on a good foot and build a peaceful relationship with the folks transporting my baby every day.  DO NOT MAKE THE SAME MISTAKE.

Any persons responsible for transporting your child to and from school MUST follow all child safety seat regulations.  The seat must be the proper type, size and rated specifically to meet the weight and height of your child.  If your child is over 40 pounds and 40 inches tall – they MUST be provided a larger convertible seat (most this size can be used with a 5-point harness up to weights of 65-80 pounds or as a belt-positioning booster up to 100 pounds).  EVERY SEAT has a label usually underneath or along the side that lists the date of manufacture, the expiration date (usually about 6 years) and the weight and height limits.  All seats and vehicles being used to transport students should be equipped with the LATCH system.

PLEASE!  Check your child’s seating on school transportation and ALWAYS remain aware of the child safety seats you use in your own vehicles.  Does your child still meet the weight and height requirements?  Is your seat installed properly?  Are you securing the buckles and chest straps in the correct position?

If you are unsure of the child safety seat being used for your child, contact your local police department.  Most departments have at least one member dedicated to performing child safety seat inspections and you can request a free inspection not only for your personal vehicle, but for your child’s school transportation as well.

Do not take for granted that your child is being properly secured in an appropriate child safety seat.

I am so grateful for that puddle of pee.

Cheers,

Rachel

[Ed note: I failed to mention that after I ripped “Candy” a new one, I nearly choked when she spoke of her intent to ‘dispose of the seat when it is returned’.  NO WAY, LADY.  We threw that 13-year-old piece of crap seat in the garbage ourselves.  I shudder to think of the child it would have been used with next.  No way.]

About Rachel Kenyon

Rachel Kenyon is an Aspie, Advocate and single mom of two beautiful babes - The Boy (11) and RM (8). The Boy is a Legomaniac and RM is a kick-ass diva with Autism and 4q Deletion Syndrome. View all posts by Rachel Kenyon

11 responses to “Shorted on the Short Bus

  • akbutler

    WOW – great cautionary tale. Are they giving her a new seat I hope?
    I had a similar conversation with our van driver. She sent me a message before my son started riding the van this summer, asking that since he was now 5 could he be in a high back booster seat. I replied that even though he was 5, he’s only 33 pounds and under 40 inches so he needs a 5 pt harness. I’m so glad she checked with me, because I never would have thought to check before he got in the van.
    and did you ever think you’d say thank goodness for pee clean up? :)

  • Boy Wonder's Mom

    Pee away RM!!! I would contact the department of transportation. THAT IS CRAP!!

    I’m glad nothing happened.

  • Tired Mama

    Oh my gosh…I never even stopped to think about this!

    We use a vest 5 point harness system on our bus, and when the size on my son was off, his driver instantly picked up on it, and we had a new one the next day. It never even occurred to me to check to make sure she was installing him right!!!

    But I don’t know what the new district uses, so not only is it good that RM’s pee brought it to YOUR attention, her pee might have also saved other kids by reminding us all of this to check and be vigilant!

    So really, her pee is a mighty thing indeed :)

  • Michel

    My daughter has 2 days left of summer session. you bet your ass I will be looking at the carseat on my monday. wtf.

  • Niksmom

    Holy moly. I would never have thought of that. Of course, right now I still drive Nik to/from school. But am considering the bus in the fall. WOW.

  • PJ Ruddy

    That’s why we transport Magnus and have the town reimburse us for mileage.

    • Mrs. Sergeant Major

      Don’t blame you – the ONLY reason we do the van is because C already knew the driver, etc, and her hub had background-checked them and they had been driving A for a long time now. THEY are spectacular – but the company sucks some serious a$$.
      ;0)

  • rhemashope

    We also had lots of trouble with the bus company, and we opted to provide the safety seat for Rhema. Now I drive her to school and pick her up (and I’m grateful for that!)

  • Annette

    O M G Other than that, I believe ALL school buses should have seatbelts! According to SafeGuard4kids.com there are at least 144 school bus accidents daily. 26,000 per year with 10,000 kids injured! How is this ACCEPTABLE? Who do we need to convince to change this? I keep getting stupid excuses like “If there is an accident and the driver is unconscious, who will get the kids out?” Well for one, the kids themselves! Secondly, there should be an aid on ALL buses if for no other reason than to keep rowdy kids quieted enough so the driver can perform their job safely. That aid should be seated and secure while the bus is in movement as well and NOT seated in close proximity of the driver rather in the middle of the bus to be able to access any child who needs assistance.

  • Crappy Transportation Company « StimCity

    […] summer, I wrote about RM’s safety seat drama with [Crappy Transportation Company] to her outplacement [AMAZING AUTISM SCHOOL].  The seat […]

  • ShannonandStu Saunders

    When you dispose of an outdated carseat please cut the straps so it cannot be used again :)

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