Last year I read “Sensational Kids” where, among other things, it gives a day in the life of five students, one typical child and four who exhibit different characteristics of sensory processing disorder. The idea is to illustrate how each child encounters similar environments.
One girl had sensory modulation problems, like me, and she was hypersensitive to sounds and light, touch etc.
She was overwhelmed on the bus because of all the loud noise from the other children talking, she didn’t like being crowded on there with extra touching. Basically riding the bus further stressed her out before school even began.
It’s an interesting comparison.
I remember feeling awkward in the beginning, walking down the street and around the corner to reach the bus stop. But then I was reintroduced to a few kids who lived nearby. There was a boy who lived on the corner, and my brother and I used to play with him. I guess eventually you move on. Then there was Erica, who I actually played on the church league basketball team with me that first or second year. I have no idea why we stopped practicing together, but it was cool to reunite. She was in high school now.
Erica and I would talk some before the bus came. And over time we started writing notes to each other. Because that was the thing at that age. Before cell phones became more versatile and widespread.She nicknamed me Bumblebee because I made the mistake of going to school in a black and yellow striped sweater. At least it was a friendly nickname.
Sometimes Erica would write my name on the page like this, creating a rainbow of color. I was always jealous of her and others who could do this. It seems simple and easy but it requires a lot of control with the marker to make specific curves and lines, to maintain a similar thickness each time around. My attempts had blobs of color or big white gaps.
Erica and I sat together on the bus when possible. It was tricky because she always had a clarinet with her for band. And for a lot of the year I had an extra bag for basketball. Our bus was always full, so by the time we got on, there was no guarantee of an empty seat for us to share. Honestly the smaller kids sometimes had to triple up so everyone had a seat.
But the bus sure was loud. Conversation on the bus was nearly impossible for me. I just zoned out and looked out the window. I have no idea how anyone could focus enough to drive.
What amazed me most is the number of kids in our subdivision. Growing up it seemed like there were few kids but plenty of older people. But they existed. You just had to know where to go.
I don’t know if I had a Discman or Walkman at that point where I could attempt to listen to music on the way to school. But chances are I wouldn’t have been able to hear anything. Earplugs might have been possible if I wore my hair down to hide them.
Maybe by that time I was getting better at absorbing the loudness and not as bothered by it. Hard to say. But I did appreciate that basketball season meant only having to ride the bus to school. My parents took me home after practice or a game.
While the girl in “Sensational Kids” visibly showed her discomfort and got upset, I was better able to hide that. But if the bus reached a particularly loud volume, more than normal, then I’m sure I was cringing.
I learned more of the geography of our town riding the bus. How different streets connected off the main roads.
The bus came in handy for a class project. My partner lived on the route, even though she didn’t ride. Taking the bus made it easier to get to her house after school without requiring a special trip by parents. So she probably took the bus with me after school and we got off at her stop.
So while riding the bus wasn’t an ideal way to reach school as far as dealing with excessive noise and tight spaces, I found a way to made it work.