February 23, 2010
Driving and singing
I have always been able to delay Alex’s driving desire by explaining the written part of the driving test is hard. I suggested she needs to work hard at reading to pass the test. When she asks about timing, I say, we will talk about it when she turns 21. This has worked, and I think Alex secretly knows she is not ready to drive.
I have written about this before, but it is worth mentioning again. I do not think Alex is ready for her driver’s license. It is not safe for her, or the other people on the road. It will not happen soon, if ever.
There are adults with down syndrome who drive, and they are good drivers. I know my 16 year old is not one of those at this point in her life. First, she does not understand traffic nuances, and will often urge me to go faster in traffic jams. She is very good with directions and even prefers short cuts. However, I think she would get lost if she had to veer from our regular routes.
Most importantly, Alex’s reflexes are a few seconds slower than mine, and those of her driving sister. When it is necessary to slam on the brakes, or make a split second decision while skidding in an ice patch, Alex’s processing time could impair her. Therefore, we wait.
However, I have had an epiphany; love it when that happens. I spend so much time alone in the car with Alex and she loves to sing. Although wonderful, her voice isn’t so pleasing to my ears. Admittedly, my new tactic is a bit selfish. We will have driving lessons every day for the next five, ten or even twenty years. This way I can prepare her to drive and not listen to her very melodic voice (melodic is very generous). I can kill two birds with one stone!!
The first lesson was turning on the car. I had Alex turn the key in the ignition and listen for the sound that indicated the gas had caught. She was successful on the first attempt, her smile lit up the whole car. I love these little minutes of success for Alex.
As we drove to school I explained about the blinkers and turning. For this conversation Alex needed to be attentive; no singing. Another revelation; she had no idea blinkers were a part of the automobile experience. This lesson should take a good four or five days, then I will move onto the next lesson, still TBD. Hope I can keep this up for the next decade, until it is safe for Alex to drive, or I am deaf.
I trust I have put off the driving request for a good while, and the singing. When we reach 21 and Alex is still not ready to drive, I will have to think of a different tactic. After all, I would never ever ever tell my sweet daughter that I don’t like her crooning.