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AIBU?

Autistic DS, meltdown on bus. Did I handle this badly?

73 replies

Bus5 · 21/09/2022 11:41

I've just been to collect my DS from school, he's 4 and a new starter on a staggered timetable to help ease him in (he has autism)

So we were on the bus heading home and on gets a man who is either mentally ill or high on drugs. He was shouting to himself, gesticulating and swearing. DS is sitting on the back seats and this man goes and sits on the same row near him with one seat between them, still calling out and gesticulating.

I ask DS to please come and sit with me, two rows infront. He refuses. I use a firmer tone and say DS please come and sit here now. He refuses. He becomes upset and I can see a meltdown pending so I take him by the hand and get off at the upcoming stop, still quite a way from home.

Full meltdown.

Did I do the wrong thing? How would you have handled it?

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Am I being unreasonable?

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drspouse · 21/09/2022 11:58

I would have done exactly that.
I have stopped the car and walked a mile when DS started grabbing me in the car (we then got on a bus because DS had calmed down, and I got a bus back later to pick up the car).

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Flossie2shoes · 21/09/2022 11:59

We can't say how we would have handled it. Only you know your child well enough to decide if you did the right thing.

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Vapeyvapevape · 21/09/2022 12:00

You did what you thought best at the time , definitely nothing wrong with that.

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Sirzy · 21/09/2022 12:00

All I would do differently in future is ensure that he is sat next to you when on the bus as a way to try to reduce the chances of similar again.

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Bus5 · 21/09/2022 12:01

drspouse · 21/09/2022 11:58

I would have done exactly that.
I have stopped the car and walked a mile when DS started grabbing me in the car (we then got on a bus because DS had calmed down, and I got a bus back later to pick up the car).

Thank you, it helps to hear that. I'm still finding my way with special needs parenting and when something like this happens it tends to set the stage for the rest of the day. He had a great morning until that happened.

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LovelaceBiggWither · 21/09/2022 12:01

I would have made the same choice. It would have been worse if he had a meltdown in close proximity to the man. Not worth the risk IMO.

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Shoxfordian · 21/09/2022 12:02

Why didn’t you sit with him to start with?

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maras3 · 21/09/2022 12:03

I think that you handled it perfectly. Flowers

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SpinningFloppa · 21/09/2022 12:04

I would have sat next to my child from the beginning.

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LoHD · 21/09/2022 12:05

I work with people with ASC and would absolutely have done this and advised the people I train to do the same. Sometimes an incident will happen and i
all you can do is try to make sure your in the safest place for that to happen.
You may be new to this but as a professional in this area just to say sounds like your doing a great job 🥰

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Bus5 · 21/09/2022 12:06

Shoxfordian · 21/09/2022 12:02

Why didn’t you sit with him to start with?

Sitting on the back row makes me nauseous. No idea why, it always has.

DS loves sitting at the back so I often let him do so and I'll sit a few rows infront and keep an eye on him.

He's usually very well behaved on busses. Today just threw us both off I think.

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DontSpeakLatinInFrontOfTheBooks · 21/09/2022 12:06

Don’t be hard on yourself. You did what you thought was the right thing at the time for your child. My son is also autistic and loves to sit at the very back of the bus, those are “his” seats and would have been the same as your boy- not wanting to move.

Lived through a lot of public meltdowns over the years after finding myself in the type of situation you describe. At best, we learn from them and manage to find a more effective way the next time and at worst well, tomorrow is a new day.

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AmyandPhilipfan · 21/09/2022 12:06

I appreciate it is hard but if you have an unpredictable child who can't cope if you need him to move seats suddenly then I think you need to ensure that you are sitting with him from the start.

But as for getting off the bus when he was overwhelmed I think that's fair enough.

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SleepingStandingUp · 21/09/2022 12:08

You did what you felt was safest, so you did the right thing.

However at 4 DS was not allowed to sit alone on the bus so that's what is have done differently.

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sourgreenplums · 21/09/2022 12:09

It sounds fine to me. The situation required you to adapt to keep your son and yourself safe, and you did.

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TokyoSushi · 21/09/2022 12:09

Yes absolutely right. I can understand why he was sat where he was and far better to take him off the bus completely than put him in any danger from the other passenger.

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Shoxfordian · 21/09/2022 12:12

Ok but then you could sit next to him on another row; I get he likes the back row but you should really be sitting with him and supervising him at 4

If you can take his hand to move him off the bus then you can take his hand to move him into a seat next to you and away from the aggressive man

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Lwren · 21/09/2022 12:15

Autism mum here, hi 👋

Mama you did what you could! I was a support worker for years with big massive challenging men, who would strip or smear in public and I'd handle it like a boss.

My kid meltdowns in public and I go to absolute shite because seeing him distressed breaks my heart.
I do what I can, same as we all do to protect them. You did what you thought was right and that's all you'll ever be able to do, sometimes you'll nail it, sometimes you'll fuck up. But your child is safe and loved, being a parent of a child who cannot be predicted is a hard graft. 💐
But you're doing your best and meltdown aside, everyone is safe and OK now.
That, is your focus. Enjoy the calm xxx

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Bus5 · 21/09/2022 12:18

Shoxfordian · 21/09/2022 12:12

Ok but then you could sit next to him on another row; I get he likes the back row but you should really be sitting with him and supervising him at 4

If you can take his hand to move him off the bus then you can take his hand to move him into a seat next to you and away from the aggressive man

Taking him by hand and getting him off the bus was a last resort because I could see the situation escalating, he wasn't complying and it was clear he was heading for a meltdown.

If I would have taken him by the hand to move seats to start with before trying to encourage him to move then the result would have been the same, but happened quicker than it did.

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Bus5 · 21/09/2022 12:20

Thank you so much for the supportive comments and acknowledgement from those of you who have dealt with similar. It's a minefield isn't it?

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Deguster · 21/09/2022 12:27

It's funny isn't it? I have learnt from bitter experience that I need to be a human shield between DS and anyone in the vicinity, so on buses I tend to hem him in at the window (and sit on him if necessary only once). He would have given aggressive stranger a hard stare but an actual meltdown would only be triggered by getting off the bus - another lesson learned the hard way (i.e. with blood on the pavement (mine) tears (everyone's).)

We live and learn with autistic children. It sounds like you did absolutely fine. :)

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pinkyredrose · 21/09/2022 12:33

You let your 4yr old sit 2 rows away from you?

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Sirzy · 21/09/2022 12:37

Yes I spend a lot of my life playing the role of human shield for ds!

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Bus5 · 21/09/2022 12:38

pinkyredrose · 21/09/2022 12:33

You let your 4yr old sit 2 rows away from you?

Yes I did.

There was only me and DS on the (and towards the) back end of the bus when we got on. What's wrong with him sitting by himself on a then-empty back row?

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MatildaJayne · 21/09/2022 12:44

I'm definitely in the 'pick your battles' camp, but I think letting him sit on his own on the bus at 4yo with or without SN is a mistake. Easily said in retrospect, but you cannot rely on other members of the public or bus journeys themselves (minor accidents etc) to be predictable. It's the sudden change in routine that can cause the meltdowns, or at least that was the case with my DS with ASD.

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