Tonight and many nights this week our night ended with sadness. There are some things that I simply cannot fix and I am working hard to remember that as a parent I have limitations.
Matthew is obsessed with driving. Unfortunately, I personally do not see this as a reality. Even if he could truly operate the car in the best scenario, I don't see him being able to handle an emergency or a challenging situation like driving in a rain storm or merging on the highway. This is something I cannot get Matthew to understand. You see in his mind he drives a golf cart, and he drives the cars at the amusement park and so he should be able to drive a car.
He is talking about driving to anyone he is near and he is getting tons of reassurance that "of course you can drive, maybe not yet, but you can drive one day soon." He has studied the test for a learner's permit more than any other 16 year old I can imagine. Hours and hours have been spent by Matthew on the DMV home page, and looking over the questions, but no matter how he may be able to study and learn the answers to those questions, I just don't see how he can make the judgement calls in the tough situations for me to put him behind the wheel of a car.
In addition to all of these concerns, I have to be realistic and realize that Matthew is turning into a young black man. It is a huge fear for me that he would be out driving one day and be pulled over for something stupid like failure to signal. Matthew might respond to being pulled over inappropriately and things could end very, very badly. Matthew does not look or sound disabled when you first meet him. It takes a few minutes of conversation to determine that something might be limited about Matthew, but in the heat of the moment there is not always time for these conversations, and so I have to protect Matthew, and this means right now I have to protect Matthew from something he really, really wants.
Every night we are having the same conversation. Every night he tells me he is ok with not driving at 16 as long as he can drive at 17. And then he asks over and over again if he can drive at 17 and I have to tell him no, he won't drive at 17 either. He then has to tell me that at 18 he can move out and get his permit and his license and then he goes through why he doesn't want to take the bus. He doesn't want to just sit in something that moves, he wants to have control of the moving vehicle.
Tonight we again had this conversation, and then he left the kitchen and went to his bedroom sobbing. He is broken-hearted over not driving and more than that he shared he just wants a friend. He is lonely beyond words.
The kids in the neighborhood are overwhelmed by him now that he is texting and communicating non stop with them on instagram. What was at one time him hanging out for a little while, every few weeks, is now him texting and messaging them almost daily. It is exhausting as it is the same texts every day. Over and over again. It is his way of trying to connect. For him it is comfort, for them it is exhausting.
I have tried to involve him in Special Olympics, but he doesn't see himself as the same as the athletes we have met at Special Olympics. I have tried to involve him in typical sports, but it quickly becomes apparent that he doesn't fit into a typical sports team. He doesn't process the rules of the game quickly enough to make decisions and fit into the team. His repetitive conversations are exhausting game after game.
He is somewhat successful when he is at the YMCA playing pick up games in the gym, but that is dependent on there being a game going on, and that he is needed as a player. Additionally, there are times when the kids playing in the gym are the same ones who are tired of him from the neighborhood and so it is just another rejection.
I am going to spend time tonight and this weekend trying to figure out how Matthew can find peers to be with. I keep telling myself that there has to be a place for kids like Matthew, other kids who simply want a friend. Kids who are entertained by the same repetitive conversations. Who are also limited in the opportunities they can participate in but who are fun to be with, and have gentle hearts. Kids who love a great game of basketball or just shooting hoops. Kids who love making music, and spending time together. Kids who love tossing around a baseball.
Matthew is looking for a friend, and a friend needs to be a true peer. I need a friend for Matthew because if I have to watch him shoot hoops alone much longer I'm not sure I can keep smiling and watching and telling him it was a great shot! I need a friend for Matthew because Matthew needs a friend! Matthew has joy to share, and someone needs to hear over and over again that Matthew is involved in a pancake breakfast on Sunday morning, and that Matthew is almost done with summer school......and all of the things Matthew wants to share....someone who appreciates Groundhog Day!
- I am a single mom of three amazing boys! All three of my sons entered my family through adoption. All three of my boys have developmental disabilities. My oldest son, Matthew has been diagnosed with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and Bipolar Disorder. David, my middle son, has a genetic condition, he has a duplication on his 15th chromosome which leads to autism like symptoms, seizures and learning challenges. My youngest son, Jacob has learning disabilities. Each of my children bring unique challengs to our family and also bring their own personality and joys to our everyday life!