Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Max is driving and maybe someday, for real


Max likes to sit in our car while it's parked on the driveway and make like he's driving. He grips the steering wheel, bounces up and down as if he's on a bumpy road and pretends to honk the horn. Dave or I hang outside, drink a cup of coffee and check email, occasionally noting "Watch out for that truck!" or "Hey, let's go to the drive-in movie!" or "Don't go too fast or the police will catch you!" (which cracks Max up every time).

It makes me wonder whether Max will be able to drive when he grows up.

I usually try not to let my brain fast-forward into the future, given that it's not something I can control. Focusing on the here-and-now reality of Max is the best way to live life; as I learned when he was little, will-he-be-able-do-that musing causes a lot of anxiety. But the driving daydream is innocuous enough to indulge in, given that it's not a major life necessity. My mom never did learn to drive, and it's never been an issue. Some of my friends might say I never really learned to drive either, though I do.

First I Google "adaptive driving specialist" because it's always comforting to know about experts out there. Seems like there are "driver rehabilitation specialists" who train people in adaptive driving and outfit cars with special equipment. So, Max can someday add "driving therapy" to his already impressive list of therapies. Wonder if insurance will reimburse for that? Bwaaaaa-ha-ha-ha-ha!!!

Then I Google "driving with cerebral palsy" and get sucked into comments in some forums. Some people with mild CP drive, but many with the more involved kind don't. I picture Max pedaling his tricycle up and down our street and how much his control has improved over the years; this spring, he rode bumper cars alone for the first time. Then I ponder the intricacies of driving and wonder how he'd handle them with his fine-motor challenges. And how could he take the written test? Would they let him use his iPad? (This is what happens when my mind gets going.) Then I think about how years ago Max wasn't capable of any steering at all, and I wonder just how much his skills will improve in the years to come.

I find a YouTube video of a beautiful girl with right side hemiplegia who has adaptations in her car that enable her to drive using her left hand and left foot.

   

Max's CP affects both sides, but his left side is the stronger one so this gives me hope. It also occurs to me that if nothing else, maybe he could find some cute chick to drive him around.

And then, DOH!, I search for "driverless car," the one Google founder Sergey Brin tools around in. It's an adaptive Toyota Prius that has laser-guided mapping, radars in the front and rear to determine positions of distant objects, a camera mounted near the rear-view mirror to detect traffic lights and moving obstacles like pedestrians and bicyclists and other auto-features. The cars will hit California streets by 2015 and data shows they are smoother, safer drivers than people.


Technology will be the answer for Max, I suspect, as the iPad and Proloquo2Go speech app have have been for his communication. 

Although having a babe drive him around would be a fine option, too. 

16 comments:

  1. I have milder cp and drive just as some of my friends with cp do. It can and does happen depending on many factors.
    Recently I heard an NPR story about how many young people now wait longer to get their license. I think it even said car ownership is down (or something or another) - the point of the article being that depending where one lives, driving doesn't have to be a necessity at all. Supposedly, cities are reviving and people are more and more able to walk, bike or take a bus. So if Max one day lives in a strategic location maybe he won't even need to drive. If walking a lot won't work for Max, then a bike or trike could. In some cities, biking is all the rage.
    A few times in my life, I've found myself without a car for a bit. While it could be cumbersome to foot it, walking also added so much to my life. I tended to go to
    the same stores a lot so I got to know the workers. I got to know my neighbors (both human and canine). My bank account got fatter and fatter the longer I didn't pay for gas.
    People tell me I'm crazy but I loved it really....and with better planning, it would be easier (like clustering bigger errands and taking a cab for that).
    My point in telling that story is not to say it would be the same for anyone else but just to say that not driving can maybe, possibly, sometimes have a bright side too.
    There are so many ways that driving or not driving could work out just fine for Max :)

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    1. So very true! I happen to enjoy driving and, as usual, I'm projecting my own idea of joy onto Max. But of course, there's plenty of joy in NOT driving, too, as you point out.

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  2. I forgot about the driverless cars -- that could make all the difference. (Will they pick up takeout, too?) In the meantime, I wouldn't worry about a written test. I'd be surprised if half of them aren't computerized already --- so administratively simple these days that "CBT's" are used for everything.

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    1. HA! Wouldn't it be genius if you could tell your car, "Go grab the Chinese food!"

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  3. I have CP, and although i was told I could probably drive, I have chosen not to. While there are times when I hate waiting on para transit vans, and wish my life wasn't dictated by their schedules, I really don't think I am missing out. I live in the midwest, where public transit is sporadic at best, and mass transit (ie Amtrak) is not available. Also, I do not yet own a lift van for my wheelchair, so paratransit is my go-to option in this case. If I lived on the East Coast near a train line, I would not even consider needing to drive.

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    1. We're near a train line, and it takes about 10 minutes to walk there (and Max has done the walk). Perhaps he will choose not to drive, who knows... It's really awesome hearing the perspective of adults with CP. Thanks, Emily.

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  4. My brother will never be able to drive, and I hope he will never gain interest in doing so because it would break my heart if he felt less because of it.

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  5. My daughter has CP but living in San Fransico with alot of public transit she does not drive and does not mind. She is 19 and loves riding the bus to work by herself.

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  6. The individual has to want to drive in order to be successful as a start. It is always good to know that the options and resources are available to try and have the same opportunities as all individuals. Each individual is different accessibility of transportation in the areas. Here is a link to The Association of National Driving Specialist. Most driving rehab and therapy are at hospitals is rehab for driving is not always a service. Prior approval for OT services to get cost covered is needed by physicians. http://www.driver-ed.org/i4a/pages/index.cfm?pageid=1. If driving is offered through the school district and no other accommodations are a viable for driving for disabled the district may cover the cost of evaluation or driving if an appropriate goal in plan

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    1. True, Irene. It will be totally up to Max! I just hope that if he really wants to drive, he'll be able to.

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  7. I have CP too, and I drive from my wheelchair. I adaptive gas and break lever that I control with my left hand and a nob on the steering wheel that I grip with my right that let's me move it easier, less resistance. Adaptive technologies have come along way and vary depending on how much support needs. They can adjust things so he can easily control the car with tons of strength required.

    They were more worried about my startle reflex and my tendency to jump at at loud sounds after long stretches of quiet. I live just outside of Albuquerque were public transit is almost nil. I just started driving independently to ABQ this year for grad school, but have driving all over my hometown by myself for years.

    As you know, it just takes time and patience. But driving independently is one of my greatest joys. To be able to 'get in the car and go' is priceless to me, especially because other transportation options are so limited otherwise.

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    1. *without* tons of strength required.

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    2. So great to hear this from you, Hilary. I'm with you, I really love driving. Even in New York City traffic! Kind of like a thrill sport.

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  8. Driverless cars ARE coming and will be the norm either by the time Max is ready to "drive" or soon after. I have been waiting for the day to come long before Max was born

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    1. I do wonder what they're going to cost!

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  9. I'm in the process of taking adaptive driving lessons now, and the technology that's allowing me to do it is amazing! I use hand controls and something called low effort steering. I was so nervous when I first started: http://wordsiwheelby.com/independence-driven/
    I bet by the time Max is old enough, technology will be ready for him! :)

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Thanks for sharing!