Public Transportation and Children, including Special Needs…

crowded bus

*photo by nats’ photostream at

Imagine getting on this bus with Baby in the front pack and Toddler trying to free his hand from yours. You help Toddler climb the giant steps up, only to find the bus crowed with no seats. With Toddler in front, you tighten the grip of his wriggly hand while you grasp with the other hand the hand grip swinging from the ceiling. The bus lurches forward. You stumble a bit. You close your eyes praying for your lives and cursing yourself for taking the bus. Then someone smiles and gets up so Toddler can sit. You stand swaying back and forth, or more likely jerking forward and backward while bouncing Baby, who at this point has started crying. Somehow the bus gets more crowded. Your stop is coming up. You begin planning the exit strategy in hopes that you don’t loose Toddler and don’t crush Baby. Then, the Mommy Panic Button is pushed – what if Toddler doesn’t get off with you? What if he gets lost? 

Imagination or Real?

Maybe you didn’t have to imagine this because you just experienced it this week AND to top it all off you are in a foreign country. I’m pretty sure I have had this kind of a day. It was WAY too easy to write for me to have imagined it all up.

Transportation Holder

When our son became old enough to have his own transportation card (like a debit card for buses and subways) we bought him a holder that went around his neck. All the kids now have one. Jie Jie just got a new one for her recent birthday.


“But a transportation holder isn’t going to help…”

No, just having the holder and the card are not going to help. I agree. That is why we decided that in case we should get separated from our kids, they need to have our phone numbers in the holder as well. So, we have my husband’s business card with his cell number inside, too. This card is written in both English and in Chinese. The dual language is important – not everyone can read English, so the language of your host country needs to be on the card as well. The kids know they are to ask someone to call that number if for some reason they find they are lost.

Special Needs Addition

Since Jie Jie is a special needs child, we have added  a little more information to her holder. We also have a card that states, in English and Chinese, that she is a special needs child who cannot speak or have anything by mouth. Then both of our cell numbers are on that paper as well.

I’ve been thankful that the kids have not had to use those business cards to call us. Tomorrow morning we will climb those steps again and face the crowds. We take the bus to school most mornings. Even though the kids have gotten really good about staying close and paying attention when it’s time to get off, I feel a little better knowing they have our numbers in their holders in case something does happen.

Your Turn: Do you use public transportation with your kids? What has been your experience? Share your story below.

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6 thoughts on “Public Transportation and Children, including Special Needs…

  1. Now imagine having to get on said crowded bus with a special needs child in a wheelchair. Keep in mind that few people have ever before seen a child in a wheelchair in this place and genuinely don’t know what to do to help. So they stare… and stand there… and if you’re lucky they move over a bit. Also keep in mind that there is no way to get the wheelchair in through the front door of the bus, so you get skilled at rolling it up the stairs to get on through the back…until the day you find out that it is not legal for anyone to enter through the back door. And you find out when the driver slams the door on you and will not open it to even give you a chance to get on. It is frustrating to say the least, but then you realize how grateful you should be to all the drivers who broke the rules for you and your child and let you on in the back. And on the occasional trip when the driver actually parks the bus, gets out of his seat and comes to the back to help you get on, you praise God for His blessings and love!

    • Lori, first thanks for sharing your story. I can only imagine, a little. “Bless your heart” is the next thing that comes to mind along with the reminder to be more grateful for people to help me in the smallest of ways that are really HUGE. Just the small act of holding the door open is so HUGE for me when I’m out with Jie Jie. And the next time I get on our bus built for wheelchairs, I’ll be VERY grateful. (They even lower down and have a ramp for wheelchairs to roll right up, and the driver gets out and helps from what I’ve seen…it’s very different here). They are very patient with us and I’m so grateful for that as well.

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