Every morning I put my special needs son Andrew on the school bus

buckle him in

cover him in love

and cross my fingers and toes that he’ll be okay

while he’s away


Every morning

he stares at me through the window

while I wave and blow kisses and jump up and down

hoping my grin does not betray me

and that he cannot sense

the fear and panic in my heart


This is our dance

every morning,

our gaze never breaking

until the bus rounds the corner out of sight

and I can let my shoulders collapse from the burden

of having to trust the outside world


But today

my son managed only a quick glance in my direction

distracted instead by a fellow passenger

who brought his favorite book in his backpack

so he could read to him on the way to school


For the first time

(since ever)

my son was not sitting alone

too busy to watch me as he sat next to his friend

their heads huddled together

a simple story about some green eggs and ham

keeping them occupied and delighted on their journey towards their day


For the first time

(since ever)

I blew kisses

and waved

and jumped up and down

and he did not care

and my shoulders felt a little lighter

and my shaky grin

was replaced with the kind of smile

that makes people wonder what you’re up to


(which I realized was still on my face

long after the bus had rounded the corner)



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56 Replies to “For the First Time (Since Ever) He Didn’t Sit Alone”

  1. I can picture it through the tears in my eyes. I am so very happy for you both!! {{HUGS}}

  2. Thanks so much for sharing with us! I always dreaded putting my daughter on the special needs bus too! Keep writing….. you’re very good and inspirational. <3

  3. Oh, this was exquisite. A friend…someone to share a book, a laugh, a look. It’s what we all want for our kids. So happy your son found one.

  4. I’ve only experienced your amazing family for an hour in person, and by everything you post… but this? I teared up. I’m so happy for Andrew, and so happy for you, Jo! This is amazing. And the little boy with Andrew’s favorite book? He is going to be an amazing man when he grows up… thanks to you, Andrew, the school, and his parents. 🙂

  5. I needed to hear this today…..I have a 17 yo with spectrum disorder that is so lonely and begs for friends and acceptance…..the school tunes it out when his peers make fun of him and make him feel bad abojut himself…..I am so glad to see that there is still good in this life!!!!

  6. My son Luke – who I’ve written about in my book Life At The Edge and Beyond is now 21 years old. He has friends and that is his biggest achievement and my biggest joy. Never ever doubt that our children will succeed – we take nothing for granted and celebrate every little achievement as Huge. My boy carried the Olympic torch last year and he is amazing me every day now. It’s taken 21 years of hard work, being expelled from school, attempting suicide and police arrests BUT now we are on the winning side and he’s an inspiration to me and many others. Google him to see some of his successes xxx

  7. Yeah…I am so happy for you and your son!! The burden of trusting the outside world is hard for any parent but twice as hard for a parnet of a special needs child. I have a son who has Autism and we have had him in a private Christian Nursery school for the last 3 years as a toddler,preschooler and now in JK (we’re Canadian) He starts public school in September for Senior Kindergarten and already I tear up at the thought of him being in the outside world that long without his Mama. When I hear stories like these I smile so Thank you for the smile!

  8. I go through this exact routine. When the bus pulls away my heart breaks. I feel so vulnerable to the outside world. I worry while he is gone. I hope some day he will too have a friend!

  9. As an Exceptional Student Services provider I’m always begging, borrowing, yes, and stealing ideas to experiment with during my daily sharing of academics with students. Ok, I teach SpEd kids.

    One year we had a first grader on the spectrum, nonverbal until she became familiar with you. Dolly’s mom wanted her to experience as many normal events as possible. Everything we did was normal, everybody participated to the fullest extent possible. Dolly was going to ride the bus to school!

    Before this occurred the OT, para, parent, and SpEd teacher brainstormed to insure a successful venture. As a team we decided to assign select 5th grade students to be Dolly’s seatmate. They sat with her in the morning, waited for her before bording in the afternoon. After a week we rotated students, then further modified once we knew Dolly was comfortable with the situation. Five students were assigned a day of the week. Since Dolly was the last student on the bus in the morning and the first off in the afternoon, this arrangement worked well. All students looked after her. In case a 5th grader was absent other students figured out what to do. (It was deliberate that a plan for absences wasn’t presented to students.)

    It was a successful year for Dolly! The next year she was able to choose where to sit and she never sat alone. Everybody wanted to sit with her!

  10. Have an autistic grandson age 4 his times are ahead. I hope moms out there are raising caring and compassionate kids who will befriend a special kid. We all make up the “human race”. Helping and having compassion for those struggling to just make their own way and be accepted is what makes us “human” . Teaching is how we live our lives.. teach you kids to care. We will all benefit , but the special ones, those lives will just bloom.

  11. Oh!!! Gives me hope!! I put my special needs son on the bus each morning and he sits alone. I pray one day he he has the joy of making a true friend! I don’t know if that will happen or not, but the warrior in me, isn’t giving up the good fight!!

  12. From a mom who heard the official ASD diagnosis just 6 days ago, thank you for articulating that moment so beautifully. I’ve had my own moments like that, standing alone with happy tears streaming down my face. Today, I didn’t feel so alone after reading your post, and I felt a little bit of the leap of joy that I know you had in your heart.

  13. Have been through this myself and know the weight and the relief when it’s lifted. I cried.

  14. Thank you for this. I celebrate with you. My wonderful aspie 13 year old boy was invited to a birthday party by a classmate over the weekend. He attended. He had so much fun! Just one of the boys… My heart is lighter this week, too. Many blessings to you and your family, mama.

  15. This is the hope for all mamas world wide. Special needs or not. Just to not sit alone. On the bus. At lunch. In class. At assembly. Smiling that the dream came true for you.

  16. An absolutely beautiful story. For more than a decade, I have been an educator. Your story brought tears to my eyes. It gives me hope. Thank you.

    John VanPelt

  17. You found the words inside my heart and put them on a page, where so many of us can find comfort in them. Thank you. (and high-five from a fellow jumping/smiling/waving bus stop mama)

  18. How beautiful! What a lucky boy he is, given a mommy like you.

    Please know that there are teachers out there, who get children like yours off the bus, watch over them with love (not the love of a mom, but love, nonetheless), and put them back on the bus to send home to you, hoping for the friend, too. Thanks for trusting us with your treasure.

  19. I love this. My son takes a bus everyday to a prek program and every day I trust that the bus driver, aides and teachers will keep him safe. There is a sense if sadness and relief when you realize you’ve been usurped by a new friend. Wishing everyone’s children many good friends in their lifetime.

  20. Yeah! Came over as a fellow Monkee…this is precious. Tears are streaming! Yeah for friends, books, bus rides together, and a beaming momma! Bask in this joy!

  21. Oh Jo this was the perfect compliment to the post I wrote yesterday. A reminder that it can be better. It can be good. It will come. So happy your shoulders are light dear friend.

  22. Love this and so happy for you and your son. I am so proud that I have raised a daughter that is quick to befriend the special kids. She is a junior in high school and has a friend that waits every day for Kelli to get to school so that Kelli can give her the note the writes each morning to start off her day with a smile!

  23. This story warms my heart. My Mackenzie had many friends when she first started to Kindergarten. As the years went by all her class mates grew UP and she in a lot of ways did not. They moved on with their lives and left her behind wondering why they never acknowledged her any more. She is now almost 22years old and the friends she has are my friends. Hurts to see your child hurting and can’t do anything about it.

  24. My daughter is the one who would be bringing the book. She was the friend and protector of a classmate last year who had special needs. His mother told me at her birthday party that all his good stories begin with, “My friend, Zoe. . . . .”. This year her special friend is autistic and since she’s shown him love, consideration and friendship – and has stuck up for him when others were picking on him, other classmates have followed suit! And she was scared at first. The best part is that he went from not saying a word or making eye contact, not even to her when SHE’D talk to him (but that was OK by her), he’s started talking!! And raising his hand!! And joining in playground activities!! WE ALL NEED TO TEACH OUR CHILDREN TO BEFRIEND THE NEW KID, THE UNPOPULAR KID, THE DIFFERENT KID. My daughter will see this poem so she knows how much they mean to the child and to the parents. It should be read out loud and hung up in all classrooms.

  25. Watching our children take a step on the journey towards friendship is a reward and a relief. So glad your son is on his way. Thank you for your poem, which has me in happy tears.

  26. I can not tell you how that sentence hurts my heart… I pray that your son will have a friend soon… you don’t live in Pittsburgh do you? I have a 5 year old boy who I’m sure would be his friend. Love and light to your family.

  27. This makes me so sad to hear about your 17 year old. I will say a special prayer for you both. I lost my son at 17 in a car accident but before his accident I remember his loneliness for friends and how he would be a clown on the outside but I knew he was hurting inside. That just broke my heart and my biggest fear for him was heartache. I don’t have to worry about that any more because I know nothing can hurt him any more. He is in his glory with his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

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