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Avoiding a Full-blown Meltdown


Why would you implement a bus change ten days before the end of the school year?? Can someone answer this question for me; is it just to make the last few weeks of school miserable for me? Sometimes I am thinking that is the reason.

Friday I received a notice that the little man’s (9) bus was being changed from the “red” bus to the “green” bus. Apparently, too many students ride the red bus, and we are just figuring this out the last two weeks of school. The notice says, “Your student may arrive a few minutes later than they currently arrive home.”

That was my first “Oh Crap” moment. He usually gets off the bus at 2:20 and if that bus gets him home even a few minutes after that my little man is bent out of shape! Yesterday was the first day on the “green” bus, why is it called a green bus when it is the same yellow cheese bus that picks up and drops off all the kids? Anyway, he hated it! He arrived home after 3:30!! I think it was more like 3:40ish…that is an hour and twenty minutes later (a long time for any kid to spend on the bus to get home from a school that is less than 5 minutes away).

I figured that it is just another two weeks so hopefully things will get better today. They did not. I thought maybe the bus was so late because it was the first day with the extra kids and different stops; it was not. He arrived home today completely upset. He says his bus driver is mean, none of the kids are allowed to talk on the bus. The green bus is a quiet bus, is what he told me. So now he is upset that all his classmates are still on the red bus, this bus he cannot talk to anyone, AND it takes an hour and 20 minutes longer to get home from school.

Well, I don’t blame him for being pissed! I would be too.


Little man doesn’t usually get off the bus ravenous but the past two days he did. I am thinking that extra time helps build up his afterschool munchies. So today when he walked in the door, he was already upset and complaining about the bus when he made a b-line for the freezer.

I had no idea that we were out of pancakes. I knew we ran out a few days ago but thought Hubby picked some up the other night at Wal-Mart. He did, but they were chocolate chip pancakes, and little man does not eat anything but regular pancakes. AND they were the wrong brand, from the wrong store, so even if they had not been chocolate chip pancakes chances are he would not have eaten them anyway.

First clue to that there was someone thing wrong was when I heard the freezer door slam. “We don’t have any more freaking pancakes! Arghh!”

I thought the situation was resolved when the little girl next door suggested he come over to her house because she thought they had pancakes. The plan was for them to go there and have pancakes—all was right with the world again and little man ran out of the house. Less than five minutes later, the front door slams, followed up several grunts and he starts stomping up the stairs.

Apparently, he was getting angry because they were out of pancakes too, and now he was made because they told him he was getting too angry—then the tears started to fall.

You see he had a bad bus ride, then his own calming mechanism was to plan out what he would do when he walked in the house, which today—you guessed it, involved pancakes. When that plan fell apart so did he.


Step one, I had to immediately give him my full attention, meaning getting up and stepping away from the keyboard (yes, losing my own thoughts and momentum in the process—but hey it resulted in this blog post).

Then I offered him an alternative to his pancakes—his meltdowns are always closely linked to hunger—so I convinced him to have a hot pocket followed by Italian ices that I stashed away in the freezer. But it only worked together with the promise of going right to the store when he is done eating to buy the pancakes that he likes. Pancakes are what he has been eating every day for the past couple of weeks.

As soon as he got some food into his system, he settled down to watch a cartoon, and now has run outside to play completely forgetting about going to store for more pancakes (don’t be fooled that will only be for a time). So I had better not forget to get my toosh out of this chair and get those pancakes before dinner time or there will be hell to pay.

First rule of dealing with autistic children (probably any children for that matter) always always always do what you say you are going to do!

Jeannie Davide-Rivera

Jeannie is an award-winning author, the Answers.com Autism Category Expert, contributes to Autism Parenting Magazine, and the Thinking Person's Guide to Autism. She lives in New York with her husband and four sons, on the autism spectrum.


  1. What a mess! I swear — sometimes I think the schools are just trying to come up with ways to make our lives more difficult.Changing buses two weeks before the end of the school year is just plain idiocy!

    • No argument here! Now my poor baby is begging me to pick him up after school instead of making him ride that bus! I feel terrible because I sooo don’t want to go and sit on the car line at school for an hour before they let out…but I may have to suck it up and do it for the last couple days to avoid these meltdowns. Makes me want to go kick someone in their shin though!

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