Autism Adventures at the DMV
At age 19, I finally took my son to the DMV last week, but it wasn’t to get his license…it was to get a photo ID. You see, Nathan has autism and will never drive a car.
To prep for the experience my husband and I went on the government website, filled out the paperwork and made sure we had the correct documents because we knew we were going to be “changing his schedule” to get the ID. To kids on the spectrum, it is all about keeping with the schedule. Any change can cause great stress.
And so Nathan was stressed out as we drove there and I kept repeating the words “Get photo ID, then go home.” He repeated the words and kept playing the same movie segment in his brain to keep himself happy, even though I could tell by his body language that this was not a happy thing for him.
When we arrived, we were told that since Nathan was 19, that the two pieces of mail they needed had to be in his name, not mine. Really? Sigh! Why didn’t they tell us this on the website? I assumed since I am Nathan’s guardian that my mail would work. Nope.
Ugh! Sometimes I want to bop people on the head and explain, “Do you have any idea what my son is going to do when we have to drive home and come back??” Actually, I had no idea what he was going to do or if I’d even get him to come back…so, I didn’t say that.
We got in the car and I simply explained to Nathan, “Go home. Get paper. Come back, get photo ID, then go home.” Yeah. It didn’t go over well.
The whole way home and back he kept repeating with a stressed out voice, “Get paper.” At least he wasn’t throwing a tantrum. We’ve had plenty of those.
I had called my husband who scrounged to get us the proper “papers” and ran it out to us so we didn’t even have to pull in the garage. I knew if Nathan got out of the car we’d never get him back in…and at 6’1” 260 pounds there was no way I could win that battle if he decided to fight us on it.
Off we went again with my constant reassurance that we were going to “Get photo ID, then go home.”
Thank goodness there wasn’t a line when we returned.
Side note: If you are wondering when you should go to the DMV to avoid a line—go on Black Friday.
They brought us in and had Nathan sit down and snapped his photo. He actually giggled when it flashed. Then they gave us our number 500. Nathan held the paper and we waited for our number to appear. When 500 appeared, we went to the counter and I handed over the paperwork while Nathan wandered around.
Picture taking a 3-year-old that is 19 to the DMV and you can imagine what my experience was like—they have to go see every station. I kept an eye on him when I wasn’t answering the lady’s questions. At one point I looked up to see him looking over the shoulder of the lady in the station next to us, with no sense of personal space. Oops. Sorry!
“Nathan, come to mom” was my beckoning call for the next 10 minutes.
Most people look at Nathan and give me a smile…although some don’t know what to make of him. He walks around quoting Disney movies and giggling, curious about what everyone else is doing. He actually did a good job not wandering too far.
Now, I did bring a word search for him to do, but of course, he didn’t want that.
Then the magic happened. They handed him his temporary paper “photo ID” and he looked at it and happily followed me back out to the car. He held that paper and looked at it happily and calmly the whole way home.
We did it. We survived our adventure. Not without a little stress, but we did it! Yay.
Hopefully in four years we can renew online and save ourselves a little bit of stress.