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Therapy and sanity for ordinary parents of special kids.

Driven to anxiety

SEAT auto emocion : Challenge Zone

Image by Torley via Flickr

Remember that time in your teenhood when you couldn’t wait to reach the legal driving age? Getting that license meant making a major leap in the quest toward freedom and independence. We certainly took full advantage of it when we got our licenses as teens.

“Vi, where is Patty?”

“Oh Tony, she offered to go to the store to pick up milk for me. She’s such a good daughter.”

“Vi, that was eight hours ago.”

Now as parents of special children, our excitement has turned to anxiety or panic, especially when you have a teen with a disability that affects their coordination and visual perception. Driving requires the ability to make snap decisions and to manage unforeseen circumstances, something Gina or “Crash” (as she’s known as in our family) still struggles with.

“Mommy don’t tell me you hit another car in the driveway?”

“Emmy, it’s not my fault. That car wasn’t supposed to be parked in that spot. They just ignored the Park At Your Own Risk sign with the skull and crossbones that Dad put up after my last accident!”

With Gina’s daughter, Katie, approaching 16, Gina is extremely anxious about the whole driving process. On the one hand, she’s worried about Katie’s ability to drive and manage the responsibilities and challenges that come along with it. On the other, she doesn’t want to rob her daughter  of an opportunity to gain independence.

“Mom, you gotta stop babying me. I want to learn to drive. I know I can do it.”

Given Gina’s anxiety over this, she was thrilled to come across this article about a new study designed to tackle autism and driving. The study  involves using a simulator that would allow teens with autism to learn how to drive and to determine their level of readiness before they hit the road.

Patty was excited to learn about this, too.

“Gene, maybe you can take part in the study, too? You could use some more practice.”

What do you think? Do you have a teen with a disability who wants to drive? Does this seem like a good idea to you?

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5 Responses to Driven to anxiety

  1. Kristen P. February 21, 2011 at 1:34 pm #

    My adult daughter with PDD-NOS learned to drive with professional lessons. She failed the test the first time, but passed again a year later when she was more emotionally ready to take it. She’s had one accident, not involving anyone else and thankfully she was not hurt, but the end result has been that she’s a MUCH more cautious driver now. I would be in favor of letting your daughter learn to drive if she really wants to. To be sure, it’s a huge leap of faith, but if we ever have any hope of our kids leading independent lives, they need to learn to do things like this. Anyway, practice makes perfect.

  2. Sandra Compton February 21, 2011 at 2:26 pm #

    I remeber when Scotty went to get his license,, he was so confident,, and happy,, I was secretly shaking in my boots and hoping the instructor would not try and engage him in too much conversation…. when they came back she said he is the nicest young man she has ever had the pleasure of giving the test O_O I was thinking,,,,uummmmm MY Kid,??? The tall blonde?? you must be mistaken! Then about a month later at the High School he backs his old junky pick up truck we got him into the chrome bumper of a truck,, he could have walked away,, noone saw him and he coulda just left,,, but instead he found a cop showed him what he had done,, and then they searched for the owner of the car,,,, they were so impressed by his unabashed honesty the cop did not even make a police report,, instead he called me to tell me “Mrs Compton,,,, That is the most honest child I have ever met” of course I fainted (LOL) and then we made a deal with the truck owner and paid for the repairs out of pocket,,,,, he is so clumsy,,, but the honesty and downright literal honrety of Asperger’s is unbelieveable

  3. Judy February 21, 2011 at 4:20 pm #

    Yikes! I don’t wanna think about it yet!
    I think the sim approach is awesome though! Christopher is a learn by doing kid. He can learn all about HOW to do something, but isn’t at all comfortable with it (or good at) until he actually DOES it – many times.

  4. Mary-Ann Hussey February 21, 2011 at 5:12 pm #

    When *I* was a kid I was afraid to learn to drive, I did not get my license til I was about 25 and that was after trying to get my many older siblings to teach me, and finally paying lots of money for lessons I would have LOVED a simulator.

    My boy is 12 hmm I think if we start him on the simulator NOW maybe he will be ready by the time he is 17 haha

  5. Sharon February 21, 2011 at 10:02 pm #

    I really like the idea of a simulator! My kiddo is only 8yo but the thought of him driving already makes me crazy. I’d feel better if he had miles and miles of “experience” before he actually got in a real car to drive. He’s so car-oriented already I know I won’t be able to dodge the bullet when he’s of age.

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