Is Strapping The Boy Down Really The Answer? Apparently So.

This is my kidlet. He’s nine, he’s frickin’ adorable, he has Williams Syndrome, and he’s unruly on the bus.  He just can’t sit still.  Last year the bus had an aide and that was all that was needed, but this year transportation has gone completely insane.  The budget cuts are astronomical. It’s impossible to get an aide for him; I know because we asked.  Repeatedly.  We were trying to avoid the “Hello, Mama, the police brought me home!” thing again.

This is the answer: A weight vest.

At least, it’s what they call a weight vest, because that definitely isn’t what this is.  A weight vest is, of course, a vest that is weighted.  It can be specially made, or it can be a fishing vest with beanbags in the pockets.  The idea is that the extra weight will make the child feel secure.  And it works, because Niko has used weight vests for years and did very well with them.  This, however, is a harness.

The metal hoops on his shoulders clip to an apparatus that is securely fastened to the bus seat.  There are metal hoops on each skinny hip, as well. It zips up the back and buckles between his legs like a parachute harness.

Oh, he hated it at first! How he screamed! It was absolutely heartbreaking. As time went on, he became more used to it.  I’m trying to do the same.  It’s very nice to know that he’s secure in his seat and that he won’t be running pell mell on the bus, and it’s especially nice to know that the next knock on the door won’t be Las Vegas Metro handing over my little one.  It’s still very difficult to physically strap him down every morning. But that’s life, yes?  Take the bad and celebrate the good.  At least my son is so gosh darn charming!

*UPDATE* I wrote this post a long time ago (hence the coat. It’s a bazillion frickin’ degrees outside right now! A coat? No way!) and we’ve had time to adjust to the harness.  It no longer frightens him, and he actually seems to feel very secure wearing it. It took a few months to get to the point that we’re at now, but with consistency and adding it to his daily routine (“Go potty, wash your hands, and then we put on the harness!” we’re at a great place with it.  I’m glad we have it, especially since he’s been watching youtube videos on learning how to drive school buses.  Dodged that bullet!

14 Comments on “Is Strapping The Boy Down Really The Answer? Apparently So.”

  1. I know, right, Nycole? They brought him home a total of three times, I think. Which is insane. And every time they were like, “He was the cutest, happiest little guy in the car!” And I was thinking, “Oh no, he’s developing a taste for his life of crime!” 😉

    Ha, he’s awesome, Tim! You’d enjoy his antics. And you, sir, rock as well! I loved your blog post; it said exactly what I’m feeling. I’ll email you soon. 🙂

    1. I already do enjoy his antics. Him and I would have so much fun. Glad you enjoyed my post. Look forward to your email, though if you’re anything like me right now replying to this blog post is taxing. I did just past 80% and cut two chapters today. Fun, fun.

  2. Mercedes, we have that EXACT same harness for Connor (age 6 1/2, dual dx WS and ASD). He was becoming a major safety hazzard in our car and was unbuckling his car seats straps and also the regular seat belts, and I very vividly remember 6 days after having our 3rd (and last child) calling the company and ordering one for him. And oh he hated it in the beginning too but now he doesn’t mind it one bit. And it’s MUCH less distracting to the driver now that he can’t get out of his seat. Of course, he has figured out how to unbuckle his sister’s seatbelt. Ahh yes, the fun never ends.

  3. Camille, so it sounds like you use it in your home vehicle too? I felt like such a MONSTER at first! Strapping him down while he was screaming…ugh. But you’re right in that it’s distracting to the driver, and just unsafe when there’s a child flinging himself too and fro. Niko isn’t officially ASD, but he has autistic behaviors. I’m curious about Connor’s speech. Verbally, does he fall on the talkative WS side or does he have more difficulty with speech on the ASD side? Niko definitely struggles with speech, but he’s doing so much better!

    Anon, what a wonderful, wonderful thing to say. Thank you.

    1. That depends, Michael. In my son’s case, he wasn’t able to sit safely or quietly on the bus. He would get up and walk around, which was unsafe for himself and the other children involved. Are you able to stay in your seat during your ride? If so, I don’t think you’d need a harness. But if you can’t, it might be something to try. Good luck!

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