Autism Awareness Day

Autism Awareness Day is tomorrow April 2nd, but nationally it is celebrated for the whole week. If you asked me a year ago what this day means to me I would have answered “Umm I have no idea.” This is coming from the woman who questions every year what day Christmas is on. No lie – remembering dates is not my strong suit.

I was making my way back in to the work force after our daughter started preschool. I was looking for something that wasn’t highly demanding since I have three kiddos in three different stages of life that needed to be multiple different places at the same time.

I’m already a family chauffer so why not look in to being a bus driver right? I dove in to the training and the first time I sat up in that seat I knew this was going to be my favorite job ever.

I worked in a bank for a few years, babysat a few years, worked in healthcare and now this. It took months of training through the winter to acquire my license. When I started training there were three routes open at our local school district. One route ran right through where I grew up. I thought that would be perfect, I’m familiar with the area and roads and it would be the perfect starter route for me. My instructor agreed.

But God had other plans.

By the time I had my license to drive, there was one route open. It was the Resource and Transition route. It is so hard to get your own route, some people substitute for months or years before the opportunity to take a route comes up. The pros outweighed all of the cons and I took the route. The cons for me was strictly fear based, fear of the unknown and my own ignorance to what I was leaping in to as a new driver.

The Resource and Transition route consists of a small group of kiddos that need a little extra assistance, which brings me to the point of this article.

Autism Awareness. 

I was ignorant to what autism was before I started driving my bus full of kiddos to school. Ignorant in the sense that I had never cared for or looked in to what it’s like to care for special needs children on a daily basis.

My first day on the bus I was fearful.

Driving this huge bus….

What if they need something?

How do I help them while driving?

What if their parents don’t like me?

What if the children don’t like me?

As the year is coming to a close, I am so blessed. I am so blessed to have such wonderful children and families. With the help of patient parents and their beautiful children I’ve gotten to establish relationships with each of them. I’ve gotten to see & learn family routines and dynamics that are not my own. A special recognition needs to be given to the parents and teachers. They will say they don’t deserve it and anyone would do what they do but I know that isn’t true. Not everyone can do what you do. Not everyone advocates for their children the way they do. Not everyone has the patience to try multiple avenues until they find what works, but these guys do. They are human angels.

I’ve gotten to see these routines, lifestyles, and dynamics only because they allow me too, only because these little humans, that are hand picked by God, chose to let a complete stranger walk in to their little lives and earn the truest form of trust, to give them a high five, hug, or fist bump in the mornings and afternoon.

They see the world through a beautiful lens that we don’t get to experience. The happiness that comes from them is so pure. Their laughter is untouchable, and it fills my heart with so so so much joy driving them to school everyday.

In their world where verbal words are minimal they leave me speechless with how silly and fun they are without saying anything at all. If you are ignorant to what autism is – like I was, you must educate yourself. There is so much we can learn from them. So much.



๐Ÿ’œ Jess

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