Saturday, September 20, 2014

In The Driver's Seat

Charisse Hogan, Shared Abilities - September 20, 2014

I wish Charisse’s video had been available when I was young.

I learned to drive during my Senior Year in college, which isn’t really all that late, I know. At the time, though, it felt like I was finally getting around to trying one of the few things I had put off in my life specifically and solely because of my disability. It was scary and alluring at the same time. And the first, most important obstacle actually to experience the physical sensations of driving. After literally only about 10 minutes of tentative driving in an empty parking lot, with an instructor and a driver’s seat piled high with with text books and pillows, I knew that driving was going to be possible. In fact, I quickly got the feeling that it wasn’t even going to be that difficult. Before that, I couldn’t imagine doing it.

Maybe that’s a disability thing. We have a little more trouble imaging in doing certain things other people do, and there are both physical and psychological hurdles to even trying.

I was also very fortunate not to be tied in with a formal training program of any kind. I hired a local high school driving instructor who also had a talent for adaptation. He worked up the measurements for changes to the driver's seat and pedal blocks, which a local car customization shop implemented. Of course, I didn’t have any neurological issues to deal with … for me it was mostly about my height. I often wonder how things would have gone for me if I had needed adjustments more completed than a lifted and tilted seat.

Anyway, given the scheduling difficulties she mentions, it’s great that Charisse started the process early. If she gets her license this year, she’ll have gotten it a year earlier than the age I got mine.