This is a guest post by two authors: AJ Owens and his mother, Chris Owens. BTFC rejoices when our kids succeed and we applaud them. Here is AJ’s side of the story:
After forty hours of driving with an instructor from the rehabilitation center, Freedom and Mobility, along with extensive driving with my parents, I took and passed my driver’s test at the Lawrenceville DDS on August 13th 2010. Achieving my license has been a great leap forward in my life. It gives me so much more freedom to stay at parties later without having to beg my parents for rides and allows more flexibility for my school schedule. Now I can stay on campus without having the restraints that were constricting me. It also places upon me a lot of responsibility with car insurance and all the expenses of a car and also the safety of others and myself.
Here is AJ’s mother’s side of the story:
AJ is always very succinct when asked to write about things, so I wanted to fill in some of the blanks.
AJ got his driver’s permit at 15 and drove just a handful of times (not very well) with his dad in a big parking lot. He was first tested by Freedom & Mobility to see if he could drive shortly before his 16th birthday. At that time, we were given a lot of work to do, but advised not to have him behind the wheel yet.
When he entered his senior year of high school, we started working with Vocational Rehabilitation (Department of Labor) with the sole purpose of repeating his testing for driving and possibly instruction, which can be very costly. Before turning 18, AJ was able to be tested a variety of different ways (neuropsych testing, fine and gross motor skills testing, etc.) and finally, met again with the Freedom & Mobility people. This time, they thought he could learn to drive. Then, we had about 6 weeks of negotiating with Voc-Rehab to determine if they would actually pay for the training as well as bringing the training to our home in Lawrenceville (otherwise we would have had to commute to north Marietta, which was impossible with AJ being a college student by that time).
AJ had a trainer come about twice/week for 2 hours at a time to offer him training. Every 10 hours, this had to be re-approved and this was done until he reached the 40 hour mark. At that time, AJ tested for his driver’s license and passed.
AJ getting his license on his first try was a bit of a surprise for his instructor, as well as for his dad and me. He got his license on August 13, 2010. I am thrilled to say that, although we have not let him get on the roads without one of us in the car yet, he has really improved to the point that I’m almost ready to let him drive to/from school at Georgia Gwinnett College (7 miles from our home). His dad and I are also working on looking for a car for him (he does best in something small, like a VW Golf).
Anyway, although we’re in no rush, it really is great news that AJ can drive and really opens things up for him and his future.