Ryan is pretty skilled at using public transit in Abbotsford. He knows his bus schedules and times his activities so that he won’t miss a bus.
If taking the bus isn’t convenient, he accesses Uber or taxi cabs and is grateful that those options are available to him, especially when the weather is bad. But at the end of the day, there are just times when you wish you could drive your own car. Today, Ryan is one step closer to having that option become a reality: Ryan recently passed his learner’s license exam, more commonly known as the “L”.
“I’m pretty excited,” Ryan says. “It took a long time but I did it.”
Having reached this milestone is important to Ryan. He lives with developmental disabilities but that hasn’t stopped him from being a responsible participant in his community. He has a steady job, he lives on his own with his room mate Crystal and their two cats, and he is a Special Olympics athlete, specializing in bowling. Getting his driver’s license is one step towards greater flexibility.
I feel like driving will let me be more independent.- Ryan, Learning Driver
“When you drive, you can go where buses don’t go and you have more flexibility with your time,” he explains. “Now, if I’m in Mission in the evening, I have to be really careful that I don’t miss the bus back to Abbotsford or I’ll be stuck there. It will also let me go and see my sister and my mom too, who live on the other side of town from me.”
Ryan receives services from Communitas Supportive Care Society. Krista is his Life Skills Worker. She has seen how hard Ryan has worked to get to this point and is very proud of him.
“When Ryan came to me to ask about creating this as a goal for him, I was a bit skeptical,” Krista says. “He quickly proved to me that he was serious and he was able to do it.”
They began studying last spring, working through the learner’s license exam book. Krista made flash cards, they did practice tests on the ICBC website, and Ryan committed to studying on his own between their sessions together. But when it came to taking the test, Ryan struggled with the testing environment, and didn’t pass.
“It was really noisy and I couldn’t focus on the questions on the screen,” Ryan says. “I don’t read very fast and it went really quickly.”
Instead of getting discouraged or quitting, Ryan decided to try again. He discovered that there were options for him while taking the test like using headphones so that he could hear the questions being asked, and being able to sit down at a computer rather than standing. It made a big difference.
“I was more relaxed so I passed!” he says.
Krista says that the staff at the driver’s services office are also to be acknowledged. They were patient and encouraging, and they offered advice that would help make the test-taking process easier for him.
“They were really kind people. They told him that they knew he could do it and celebrated with him when he did,” she says. “It was really great.”
Ryan’s next step is to enroll in driving lessons with a local company. Krista is confident that if he sticks with the lessons and takes his time, he’ll achieve his novice (N) license.
“He is very smart and retains information well. He’s a hard worker and he’ll put the hours in,” Krista says, adding that since Ryan is a naturally responsible and cautious person, he’ll be very safe behind the wheel.
Ryan is looking forward to having increased independence. He’s also looking forward to purchasing a car and has a few different makes and models in mind.
“That’s going to be the fun part,” he says, with a huge smile.
He’s also looking forward to taking Crystal through the car wash, something she loves to do. He’d like to take his brother, Shane, shopping or to do other activities with him when their mom isn’t able to drive them.
Krista is very proud of Ryan and is excited to see him achieve his goal.
“I’m so glad that he picked me to go on this exciting new journey with him. I can’t wait to see him get his N,” she says. “There will be a party, for sure!”