Skip to main content

Sometimes we wonder if teaching basic skills, such as driving, to people diagnosed with autism is possible.

Autism Driving Skills

Do you also wonder the same?

We present you with an interesting study about a young adult who has successfully completed his driving lessons and has obtained a driving license. Further, he uses his automobile every day to commute.

Sarah James says, “Young adults, when they come to the legal age of driving, have an instant burning passion to take to the wheels.”

Sarah further adds, “In order to prepare our son for his future obligations and evolve his skills gradually, we bought a driving accessory from the Nintendo Game Cube video game with a gas pedal and brakes.” The mother says her son had fun while learning how to react and take decisive actions.

Sarah further adds, “We had to make sure he learned to steer clear especially during times of extreme pressure.”

In this article, Sarah shares about her young autistic son’s driving experience, highlighting the steps that were necessary to teach him to drive successfully.

The mother begins by recalling her experience and says, “Once I was driving to attend a meeting when my way was cut off by other drivers, a couple of times.”

She further adds, “Nevertheless, I managed to steer clear of the car that had almost edged to avoid an untoward accident.”

She again recalls her experience when she had a near miss when the car in front of her ran through a red signal.

Sarah says, “At one point in time I pulled over for a siren. However, I see other cars seamlessly pass over indicating they did not want to bother or have any consideration to follow the law. Others were seen to be continuously honking near the school zone.”

Sarah recalls, “I started to wonder whether all these people behind the wheel were autistic? I am sure not everyone is.”

However, they blatantly did not follow the law.

Driving involves necessary skills such as:

  • Predicting
  • Following Directions
  • Sequencing
  • Turn Taking
  • Problem Solving

She asks a question to the readers of this article, “Considering my above experience, do you think an individual with Asperger’s or an individual diagnosed with HFA can learn how to drive a car?”

She further ponders, “Can they be successful in deciphering the right signals that are necessary to be safe on the road?”

The answer to the above questions is YES!

Any person involving himself/herself with teaching driving skills to an autistic person needs to be professionally trained. Further, he/she needs to have an approval from their driving team to get a green signal for affirming that the autistic individual in question can be taught how to drive.

If the answer is otherwise, other possibilities of transportation should be considered for the autistic person to enjoy his/her independence.

The language/speech pathologist can offer group-based or individual-based models of unique therapies for the autistic person who is on his/her way to learning how to drive.

However, in cases where professionals conclude that other forms of transportation are more realistic, the following skills still need to be strengthened.

What are the skills required to be a responsible driver?

Language skills play a critical role in the successful development of an individual’s driving skills. The skills are highlighted below:

  • Predicting
  • Vocabulary
  • Sequencing
  • Rote memory
  • Turn Taking
  • Telephone book and Telephone Skills

All of these play an important role in making one a responsible and safe driver.

MUST READ: Helping Autistic Teens Fuel their Driving Dreams

The mother has identified a list of resources to teach the necessary skills required for driving. She adds, “The list, although not inclusive, can still be an important step in understanding the necessary things.” She further advises parents to be creative in their pursuits.

Skill Resources

Vocabulary

  • Insurance Policies
  • Driving books that are particular to your state
  • Books from auto mechanics
  • Brochures of the car model that an autistic person is intending to drive

Predictions: Therapy materials to help one successfully predict

  • Books highlighting “what if” situations
  • What can be missing
  • What could come next

Sequencing

  • Maps (A necessary tool to help one understand which street is before/after)
  • Therapy materials for audio and visual responses
  • A collection of real-time pictures that will be seen in any given street

Turn Taking

  • Hot wheels (In order to learn four-way stops)
  • Useful board games that teach defensive and rapid responses (Checkers/Connect Four)

Rote Memory

  • Booklets that teach laws and assist one to pass the necessary written tests
  • Map reading

Telephone

  • Phone books with local emergency numbers
  • Telephone numbers of important people who can be reached at times of distress

Problem Solving

  • Functional problem-solving materials
  • Role playing variety of “what if” situations

Friends and well-wishers who have experienced driving tests can prove to be greatly beneficial in having necessary discussions and role plays of real-life situations.

Sarah further says, “Teaching an autistic person how to drive is a wonderful opportunity that makes us learn things that we did not think were necessary.”

The mother adds that other parents and professionals can also make a note of the reinforcements highlighted above and practice the techniques in order to better evolve their driving skills. However, these would require multiple rehearsals in order to master.

The mother adds, “I have a son who is 30 years old and autistic. He was taught never to go above 35 miles per hour.”

Sarah James signs off saying, “In the beginning of the article, the reason behind me wondering if the drivers were autistic is that people with autism are extra-careful and they never cut others off on the road.”

Further, autistic people prefer to stop at every signal, even if they believe they are running late to their destinations.

How are your driving experiences? Do you have an autistic person in your family who is keen to learn how to drive?

Feel free to share your experiences in the comment section below and follow us for more helpful information on the subject of autism.

Summary
Autism Drive: The Right Time to React and Take Your Driving Skills to the Next Level
Article Name
Autism Drive: The Right Time to React and Take Your Driving Skills to the Next Level
Description
An insightful article into a mother's journey in making her child a successful driver
Author
Publisher Name
AutisMag
Publisher Logo