Thursday, April 14, 2005

Gone to Carolina Archive: April 14, 2005

the curious incident of the dog in the night-time by Mark Haddon is one of the best books I've read recently. Christopher Boone is an autistic 15 year-old English boy who finds his neighbor's dog killed by a garden fork. Christopher does not like talking to strangers, but he decides he has to find out who killed the dog. He starts asking questions and ends up finding the answer to the crime. But the answer rocks his entire world. He embarks on a scary adventure, down paths he's never traversed before to deal with what he has learned.

I worked with autistic kids for one year when I was just out of college. I am amazed at Haddon's depth of understanding of autism. The book jacket says he too worked with autistic kids when he was a young man. He must have done this for some time, or even have some autistic tendencies of his own, to be able to crawl inside a child's head like that.

I'd not only recommend this book to every other adult I've met, but I think it would be a great book for teens to read as well. As a matter of fact, I think I'm going to suggest this to Nate's English teacher.

I've heard about school buses in the news twice in the past couple of days. A bus tipped over at the intersection of Marvin and Johnston Roads when a small pickup hit it. 3 people were sent to the hospital. That is a bad intersection. Actually, the entire stretch of Johnston from Old Lancaster Highway to Marvin Road is scary. Cars go too fast there and the road is curvy. It's difficult to tell how fast people are going and carolinian's penchant for not using turn signals definitely doesn't help, either.

The other bit of news was an item in The State newspaper out of Columbia. A woman is upset that the state legislature isn't considering a bill to force school buses to only have bus stops on the door side of the road. Apparently a bill of this sort of was introduced last year and died when the session ended for the year. It's not even been brought up this year. Good. It would be horrendously expensive to do that. Apparently the woman's child was hit and killed by a car when she was crossing the road to get onto the bus. There was no further information about that incident. I don't know what kind of road she was crossing, or whether it was deemed a "hazardous" stop. If we have a stop occur at an area where it can't be seen by at least a certain number of feet, it is deemed "hazardous" and must be marked with a "school bus stop ahead" sign. A good driver will also see if there is a way to move that stop or approach it in such a way that the stop is on the door side. But there are always stops where the kid is just going to have to cross the road. Never a highway, though. Anytime you have a kid cross a road, the driver is supposed to supervise that crossing and warn the student if someone is coming that might not stop. The driver's eyes should NEVER leave a kid who is on the pavement.

To have to re-write routes so that all stops are on the right side of the road would be terribly expensive. We have a law that says no student may have a ride longer than 1.5 hours. So if you had to have all that doubling back, you'd be lengthening routes and you'd end up having to add more buses.

I should also mention that we run into problems where we want to move a stop and the parents just won't let us. We have a stop on one of the routes for our school that is just way too hazardous. The children's grandmother just will not comply. She does not want the kids to walk 600 feet down the road to a safer spot. So even though the official stop is down there, she still has the kids standing at the hazardous spot. By themselves. Their driver pretty much has no choice but to pick them up. He can't just leave them standing there.

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