Joshua is in kindergarten this year and that is exactly what I am doing too. I called the divisional transportation office and they said they are going to try to find a bus with an extra step or make something that will work. I am keeping on them though, Winter is coming soon and once he is bundled up, it's going to be much harder. Good luck to you too. I'd just start at the top and keep pushing! They have city buses that accommodate the elderly and so far as they have that, the school buses shouldn't have a problem doing the same. That's what they told me.
They are a struggle for my son as well and he is on the handicap bus. The rise is way too high. I can't understand this on a handicap bus. If he were to use the lift they would probably require him to be in a wheelchair and not allow him to stand on it going up. Right now I help him up the best I can and the bus driver helps pull him up at the top with the giant last step.
We had it written in Seph's IEP that he had to have help on and off the bus at school and on field trips. I drive him to school in the mornings, but in the afternoon someone is there to get him off the bus. I would recommend it be written in the IEP that the school help!
When my son was still riding the bus we had it in his IEP tha the bus pull up to the curb. That made the first step which was always the highest easier to get up on. Someone was required to be there to help him on and off at school.
I talked with our local division office and they said that whatever is on a city bus can be installed on a school bus. There are ramps that can be installed which can be hidden under the bus and it only takes 30 seconds for it to come out and the same to retract. I sent it to our transportation office so we'll see what comes. The lifts are only an option if the student is in a wheel chair, Joshua isn't there yet!
This may take getting a prescription from your son's doctor, yet it is not appropriate for a boy who has DMD to struggle up the bus steps. Traditional steps are 7 and 1/2 inches, ye over 10 inches on a school bus. This requires him to exert himself too much to climb and descend the stairs. As suggested by others it is time to ask for an IEP meeting to correct this problem. Make certain that a physical therapist attends the meeting and is involved in the discussion and if needed invite someone familiar with DMD who can help you make your case.
Before my sons needed a wheel chair full time was the school left a manual wheelchair on the bus which they used when on the lift. The driver and aide at school helped them to get up from the wheelchair and into their seat. Do not let them tell you there is only one way to solve this. It may take them altering the rules to accommodate your son, but that is required under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. This law requires the school to remove any obstacles to those who have disabilities to participate along with their peers.
I am with Brian and Lori. The physical therapist for our school district was insistent that Riley NOT climb the steps especially going down because of the continual strain on a daily basis. We developed an IEP for Riley and it was suggested that we use the special needs bus, however, I wanted Riley to ride the 'regular' bus with his sister so it was written into his IEP that Riley receive assistance going both up and down the steps on the bus. This year he is attending a new school and we have to take him and pick him up by car every day. The request carried over to our vehicle and he has assistance getting into and out of the car daily as well. Brian is right...it is the law that the school make the accomdiation for your child. Remember, as a parent you have the MOST control and say for what your child needs.
If you are not familiar with the IEP process find out if there is a disability advocacy organization in your area. Most of these organizations will have a staff member that specializes in your school laws and how the system works....they may even attend the meetings with you and help you with the process, since you are allowed to 'invite' anyone to an IEP meeting that is important in your child's development and needs.
In Tennessee we have something called STEPs. I went to one of their seminars when I was battling the school on issues around Kory's disablities. STEP stands for Support & Training for Exceptional Parents. They were instrumental in the helping me develop the IEP for Kory. We actually had a bus driver complain about the length of time it took for Kory to climb the stairs onto the bus. I called an emergency IEP meeting with the Superintendent of Transportation for the school system. Needless to say, I got everything I asked for. Kory was immediately removed from this ladies bus and the bus driver was fired. They said that she got fired because of this and some other comments that she made about the other children on her bus. I also had issues with the PT that was assigned to Kory because she kept asking him to do things that were not in his best interest. She had him walk a balance beam & climb a ladder 10 feet high!! Some of the people I dealt with were just idiots!!
This group helped me get the IEP set up exactly the way I needed. They said they would have someone come to the IEP with me. I ended up handling all the issues on my own. I got everything I asked for the remainder of time that Kory attended the school. Check to see if your state/county offers anything like this. It was pretty awesome in making me be a stronger advocate for Kory!!