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Friday, July 20, 2012

Different Ability

Red often goes off on these mini-rants about how much his life sucks.  I wrote about that a bit in this post "Simple Things" yesterday.  During such rants, he says a lot of things that don't make sense.  He just spouts off, without any justification or rationalization to his argument.

The latest rant is about how he wants to drive and it's not fair that all of his friends drive.  He blames it on us because we won't teach him.  He blames it on his Aspergers.  Most things that are wrong in his life in his opinion, are completely the fault of other people, his disability ... anything or anyone, other than himself.  He couldn't possibly be the problem --the elusive piece of the puzzle that keeps him from putting his life together in to the perfect picture.

"Because of my Aspergers ...I am so behind!"
Scratch the record dude!  Uh uh.  Aspergers does not stop you from doing anything that you really want to to.  It does not incapacitate you.  There are many people with Aspergers who live very full lives.
  
"There are Aspergers teens who drive, but no one is going to hand over the keys to a vehicle that you can actually kill yourself or someone else with.   The issue here is that you only want to do what YOU want to do.  If it's hard and requires a lot of work ...you are not willing to do it.  For example, your friend with Aspergers who drives --also takes advanced classes and is willing to do homework. You don't want to do homework because it interferes with your time to sit around on your computer doing... whatever.  You don't willingly read like you're  supposed to over the summer.  You won't consistently get up on time for work training on your own.  You are not showing us responsibility.  Why should we help you learn how to drive when you don't show responsibility?"

His response? "What does responsibility have to do with it?"
Wow! Just ...Wow!

The friend that he is referring to has Aspergers.  He is 16 and also already has a job.  He had the initiative to go out and fill out applications and apply for work.  Red complains about having to be in vocational training, yet he has not been willing to go out to get work applications and fill them out.  I will help him if he initiates the task.  We actually set this as a goal in his last Person Centered Planning meeting, and he has yet to move forward with it.  Yet, it's all our fault that he doesn't have a job or is able to drive.

Furthermore, I ask him does he even know what it takes to get a drivers license?

"You guys just teach me.  Or get me a drivers training teacher."
"Do you know the steps towards getting a license?"
"Who do you get a license from?"
After a few wrong answers he comes up with, "Um...the government."
"What government agency?"
"Um...the FBI?"
Oh sure!  You're ready to drive. 

I go on to tell him exactly what agency it is, and that he needs to do the research on what it takes to get a license in the state of Texas.
I ask him, "Have you asked any of your friends who drive what the steps are? What did they do to get their permit or license?"
"No."
Ah hah ...but it's all our fault that he doesn't drive yet.

I go on to talk about responsibility.  Driving takes gas and insurance, even if we were to allow him to drive one of our cars.  "You have to have some kind of job to help pay for that.  You have yet to go and pick up a job application.  Get a job.  How are you going to drive if you have no money to pay for gas or any of the expenses that come along with driving?"

Our now 24 year-old son had to have a job and save money towards the purchase of a car before we helped him buy one.  We may be a little more lenient with Red, but he will have to show a hell of a lot more responsibility and initiative than he does now.  It was a just a few weeks ago when he was having a semi-meltdown and tried to take my keys so he could go "handle a situation" with a friend,  I wrote about that here, "Rolling Down The Street".  Yeah that was a real doozy!

To bring finality to this rant about how he is so far behind because of his Aspergers, I say the following:

"You shouldn't look at your Aspergers as a disability.  It is just a DIFFERENT ABILITY.  It doesn't stop you from doing anything!  You just have to be willing to do the work.  You may need a little extra time for processing.  You may need a little help here or there, but if you develop a road map, set goals and follow the map --you can do anything you really want to do!  I am willing to help you.  I am not willing to do things for you.  And I will not except the blame, for not getting things done.  This is your life!"

Furthermore,  I tell him to go to the internet to the Department of Public Safety and look up what it takes to get a drivers license in the State of Texas.  As soon as he's ready to pick up that first job application, "because he doesn't need any stinkin' vocational training," just let me know.  I will not initiate it.  I will not do it for him.

"I will help you design your road map, but you are the one who has to follow it."