Thursday, October 5, 2017

Will he be the driven one, or the driver?

Dave got a loaner pickup truck the other day while Toyota serviced our minivan, and Max was gleeful about taking a ride. He loves cars of all kinds, which sometimes has me wondering about whether he will be able to drive when he grows up.

I don't often ponder Max's adult life. There are the big questions about independent living and work that I know better to worry about, because I realize that he and his life will play out as they will, with Dave and me doing whatever is within our powers to help and Max making his own choices. But the driving is something that I frequently ponder, a skill that encapsulates a lot about Max's future.

Max goes back and forth on this. Sometimes, he says that no, he doesn't plan on driving. Some days he tells me that yes, he would like to. I've shown him videos of adults with cerebral palsy driving. Who knows what adaptations may emerge down the road. But even if it is physically feasible for him to drive, will it be within his cognitive realm?

Ah, that perilous habit of peering into the crystal ball of your child's future. Really, it does nobody any good. But I can't help it.

Of course, there is such a thing as Uber, or whatever variations of that will be around in years to come. Max will be eligible for free public transportation for people with disabilities. Also, self-driving cars might be a reality by the time he is in his twenties.

Plenty of people never learn to drive, like my mom. She's gotten along just fine in life, I tell myself. But then, my mom chose not to drive. Max may want to.

I grew up learning how to drive in New York City, and I'm pretty intrepid about it. I still enjoy the freedom it gives me, after all these years. I enjoy the possibilities that open up when you get behind the wheel (carpool excluded). I would like for Max to enjoy the same, but if he can't, there will be other experiences to take their place.

Rationally, I know all this.

But then, when we talk about Max driving, I wonder and wonder. There is no logic when it comes to pondering what the future holds for your child.

"Next car!" Max said, pointing to the pickup after we were back home. As in, next time we're in the market for a car, he'd like us to buy a pickup truck. (Along with a fire engine, ideally.)

I smiled at him.

"Would you like to drive a truck?" I asked.

Max pondered that.

"I don't know," he said.

Yes, that.


  1. My guess is that, like with my son, Max will know whether driving is a good choice for him and the choice will be clear.
    In adolescence my son imagined himself driving a green pickup truck. He became proficient with our garden tractor and an ATV (private, rural property). As a teen he was content to be driven and never mentioned the truck or driver's test. He knew. Bicycle, public transportation and the mom-dad taxi have served him well as he entered the work world.
    He knows the bus drivers, the routes, the riders and learns the local news on his daily rides. He is part of the public transportation community.

  2. As my second daughter is going through driver education, I find it sad to know that my son will probably never drive. While I could be surprised, his whole life he has never been able to look/concentrate long enough to make driving a safe option. There are plenty of other things to work on to help him become as independent as possible.

  3. I find it difficult to drive due to my physical disability and just general anxiety around driving. I won't deny that I get the occasional pleasure from driving on back roads but in general, despite being pushed to drive from a young age, I avoid it and get along pretty well. I don't know if you have property or friends with some land but a private go cart track might let Max experience the fun and independence of driving. All you need is a used go cart, path, and maybe some haybales for safety!

  4. My older brother was pretty impaired cognitively growing up and wound up getting his driver's license when he was 18. Pretty sure he almost killed me a couple times bringing me to the mall or to school, but he lives and drives in Dallas now and is doing really well.


  5. I hate driving and am dreaming of the day of driverless cars. I think we're really pretty close and that *will* be an option for many -- I think in my lifetime -- but certainly in Max's.

  6. I think the fire engine would be impressive!


Thanks for sharing!

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