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Travel home from secondary school alone? AS(7 Posts)
Looking for opinions on potential childcare situation and if anyone is doing anything similar.
DS (12) started secondary school this year, just over a mile away (London). Currently we get a bus that stops almost outside our house and about a 5 minute walk from his school. It's been pretty difficult with childcare so far and I may be in the position where in a few months my current childcare option disappears.
Now, DS is pretty high functioning and sensible, but can be prone to panicky episodes. However, he's been asking us lots lately for more independence, wanting to come home on his own so we've compromised so far and arranged that I / the person who picks him up now meets him at the bus stop near the school rather than outside the school. He seems happy with this and does it confidently.
However, in light of the fact I don't know how much longer childcare will be lasting, would it be unreasonable to consider letting him do this journey on his own once this happens? He has a mobile that he uses already but I am worried about all those 'what-ifs' that may send him into a panic. I know I could train him in what to do if something goes wrong (i.e buses dont turn up / loses phone / loses money / oyster card) and I know I probably wouldnt be questioning it for someone without AS.
I probably wouldn't be home until about 2/3 hours after him, so it's also a little while to be home on his own.
Any thoughts? I genuinely have NO idea whether I'm being over-protective or naive.
Only you can decide for your child. I let my HF ASD DS, (statement) also just 12, catch the school bus home, but it's not a public bus. He did catch the wrong one(!) a couple of weeks ago, but he did remember to phone me so I could 'rescue' him. So know I know he can cope.
I'd say slowly, slowly give him more responsibility, maybe get someone to meet him at the bus stop and ensure he gets on the bus but then let him come home alone for a week? Backward chaining each stage until he (and you) are confident.
As EllenJ has said!
Backward chain it if necessary .. take it slow but be positive that he can do it
My son has MLD and ASD (special schooled and not so able) and we have taught him to use the bus, because we felt that in order to have any sort of independence it's one of the most vital skills (given there is no chance he will ever drive!)
He is 14 and this year learned to do a one route journey so he could go to his club by himself. First we did the route with him LOTS of times and showed him how to show his bus pass etc. Then we took him to the stop let him get on and raced the bus to the other end! Met him. Finally he did it himself and he is VERY pleased with himself. He has a phone now so he can ring and say he is there ok.
We have had a few hiccups.. initially he panicked if the bus was not there on the right second! Then we had the losing his pass every week for several weeks (along with his ipod ) because although he had enough money to come home he didn't know how to pay . But we have worked through as many scenarios as possible and he is now quite happy to use the bus once a week! (and his bus pass is on a lanyard )
I also work in SS and we teach all of our pupils to use the bus, including those who can't be fully independent
Was always planning to backwards chain it but I suppose I really didn't have any idea whether it would be too young. However, we're already at the stage where he walks alone to the bus stop after school (through a busy high street) and is absolutely fine and I didn't think this would happen until next year, so I suspect I have to believe in him a bit more too.
My DS (HFA, 14) has been going to school on bus since he started secondary school. We managed to get him on school bus rather than public service bus but he still has 5 min walk to/from bus stop at this end. Bus drops off/picks up in school grounds but 70% of children are bused in so there are a lot of buses - and he hasn't yet got on the wrong one!!!
He has missed the bus a couple of times (mainly due to after school activities being cancelled and him not knowing) and a couple of times the bus hasn't turned up in the morning - but he just rings me on his mobile and I can bail him out.
Appreciate your DS could lose phone (or more likely forget to charge up) but he'd have to be pretty unlucky for that to happen on the same day there was also a problem with the bus! Just make sure he has an emergency plan in place eg always go back to school - there will be staff there long after the children have gone home.
My DS has a key to let himself in the house if I am not there - probably only left him on his own for an hour or so at 12 but have gradually extended this as he has got older. Amazing what he can do if on his own - eg never answers phone if we are in - but can take accurate messages if we are not here! He mostly plays on computer/PS3 when left plus eats all the food in the cupboards.
I think it is good that your DS wants to try and be more independent and as long as you have covered what to do in the most likely situations then I'm sure he will be fine.You have to give them independence so they can learn from it - and more importantly learn what to do when it goes wrong.
Is there a neighbour that he knows he could go to for help if there was a problem whilst he is home alone?
Well, we only moved in a couple of months ago so don't know anyone too well, however next door seem lovely (and have 3 children under 3 so are generally home) plus there's a lady on the corner who kinda knows everyone. I was thinking of leaving a spare key with next door neighbour but also telling DS if they weren't in to try the lady on the corner. He's met all of them, I'm sure I could ask them and it would be no issue.
I suppose I'm less worried about him being home on his own than the travel. As mentioned, he is very sensible. He would know not to use oven, answer phone / door etc and I'm hoping to get a job that's only about a 20 min tube ride away so if I needed to be back quickly, I could (currently work an hour's drive away)
I was actually thinking of getting DS one of those alert pendant things with the fold out paper that tells people what to do and writing my phone number on it. That way, no matter what happens, he can always just show someone that.
My HF ASD DD is 13 and gets the public bus from school and lets herself in and is home alone for about an hour most days. She also leaves for school after I have gone to work. Although she started on the school bus, but due to bullying issues she is safer on the public bus. She has missed it on occasions, and lost her pass and back up money! But will phone if there is an issue. The main ASD related problems we have encountered is she found it difficult to accept that buses don't always run to timetable and on occasionally the driver will not bother to stop. Both of which are annoying to anyone but really upset her as they were not following the 'rules'. One of our neighbours has a spare key and is the back-up plan if necessary.
It wasn't an easy thing to let her do initially, and the decision to let her was forced on me as no childcare was available once she started secondary. But it is also an important step to independence and this has also led to me being more confident in working towards other journeys, and she has recently started getting two buses to DS1 house on weekends on her own as well.
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