I’ll be honest, when Noah was born pretty everything I knew about Down Syndrome I learned by watching TV. I knew very little about what life was like for a person with Down syndrome, and had a lot of fears and questions about my child’s future. I wondered if he would play like typical kids. If he would smile and laugh like typical kids. If he would go to college like typical kids. And if he would ever be able to drive a car like typical kids.
As I’ve mentioned before most of my fears were never came true, and the fact is there are people with Down syndrome that can do all of the things mentioned above…including getting their driver’s license and driving a car!
Down Syndrome And Driver’s Licenses
From time to time I’m asked questions like, “Can people with Down syndrome drive a car?” or “Can people with Down syndrome get their driver’s license?” and since I’ve heard stories of people with Down syndrome driving, I’ll typically answer “Sure, they can!”
However, I thought I’d take some time to do some research and publish a post about it so the next time I’m asked the question I can send it to them (and so can you.) I have to say, I was encouraged by all of the stories I found as I was writing this post. People with Down syndrome are breaking all sorts of inaccurate stereotypes and accomplishing milestones many (wrongly) assumed they never would (or could.)
7 Stories Of People With Down Syndrome Who Got Their Driver’s License
I want to remind you that getting a driver’s license doesn’t determine a person’s worth. A person has value and purpose simply because they are created in the image of God, regardless of anything they do or don’t do here on Earth. The truth is, Noah may never get his driver’s license or drive a car, and I’m ok with that. I really am.
I choose to celebrate, not compare our boy to anyone else. Noah is unique, and is his own person. Heck, he’s not even three years old yet and is already making a difference all over the world! I love this kid.
I hope the stories listed below encourage you and that after reading it you help us create more awareness by sharing this article on you Facebook, twitter, linking to it on your blog, etc! Thanks so much!
1. Jay Nothnagle
A came across Jay’s story on the National Down Syndrome Society’s website and was greatly encouraged! When Jay was 16 his parents enrolled him in a driver’s education course at his high school and he took the courses but not the exam. When Jay was 18 his neuro-psychological exam indicated that his judgment and problem solving skills where at a level of a 15 or 16-year-old (which is the average driving age for many teenagers.)
Jay’s parents got him a tutor who helped him study for the drivers permit test and after six months of studying was able to pass the oral exam on his first try! Then Jay preformed his driving evaluation at a local rehabilitation hospital with a driving simulator, which Jay also passed with flying colors!
But receiving his driver’s permit wasn’t enough….
Jay’s driver’s ed teacher worked with him and his parents drove with him for an hour a day for six month. When he was 21 years old he took the driver’s license test and passed it with no restrictions except eye glasses!
Jay has his own truck and drives to work, Special olympic practices and social events!
How cool is this! I’m proud of Jay and I don’t even know him!
Source: A Green Light To Driving
2. John Marrs
When John was 15 years old he started his driver’s training classes, and received his drivers permit which allowed him to drive with an adult. Then at 18 his parents took him to the DMV where he was able to pass his driving tests and become a licensed driver!
3. William Loughane
William Loughane, a 26-year-old, special olympic gold medallist, was the first person with Down syndrome in Ireland to receive his Driver’s license. William drives his Toyota Yaris to commute to his job, and to go into town!
4. Clayton Marr
Clayton Marr was the second, and youngest, person with Down syndrome in New Zealand to receive his Driver’s license at 19 years old. Clayton helps his mom and dad put wine into boxes, tapes them up, and takes them to local supermarkets in his Mercedez-Benz smart car.
I also agree with this great quote from Clayton’s dad:
It’s important young people with Down syndrome keep in touch with mainstream kids. One reason they achieve so much this way is because they set goals against their peers…
Source: Down Syndrome Teen Gets License
5. Kelly Fitgerald
Kelly Fitgerald is one of only two people with Down Syndrome in New Zealand that has her full driver’s license (I’m assuming Clayton is the other.) Check out this video to learn more about Kelly’s story.
6. Meredith Martin
Meredith is a 24-year-old women with Down syndrome from Nebraska who has her own apartment, has three jobs (works at a local hospital, a grocery store, and an assisted living facility…wow!) and has her driver’s license! She’s also active in her church, her community, and enjoys kickboxing, pilates and riding her bike!
Wow, you go girl!
Jon is a volunteer at Petaluma Valley Hospital and drives to visit patients, take their requests for meals, delivers flowers, and helps our when needed…and has his driver’s license! His mother says that Jon is the best driver out of all their children, because he never speeds or takes chances, in other words he is careful.
And how about this, because Jon has his driver’s license he gets to take his girlfriend of 4 years on dates to the movies…by himself! Now that’s pretty awesome…and encouraging!
Source: How Jon Learned To Drive
These are just a few stories I found of people with Down syndrome driving cars and getting their driver’s license. What I find really encouraging is that these stories are from the last few years which means we are just getting started! The future really is bright for people with Down syndrome!
What’s your thought after reading this post? Do you know other people with Down syndrome who have their driver’s license? I can’t wait to hear your thoughts in the comments below, and I hope you’ll use the share buttons below to share this post with other people. Thanks so much!