Drivers with Autism

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Autism and driving

Considerations for pursuing driving

For young people with autism and their families the decision to pursue driving has many considerations.
Fortunately, there is more research to help guide that decision than there was in the past.

Learner drivers and their families express challenges with learning to drive that include

On average, it may take longer for an individual with ASD to learn to drive. Time, patience, supportive instructors, as well as specialized training techniques, may lead to successful outcomes.

It is also important to recognize that not everyone with ASD has difficulty learning to drive. Similarly, not everyone with ASD will be able to overcome the challenges associated with learning to drive.

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What are some of the specialized training topics?

Autistic drivers tend to focus on the horizon versus scanning for immediate hazards like brake lights of the car in front

An Innovative program in South Carolina teaches autistic teens visual search skills

East Carolina University’s Occupational Therapy program has a Boot Camp to help autistic teens prepare to be drivers

Getting Out2

Driving and Aspergers: Balancing Independence and Safety

References

Almberg, M., Selander, H., Falkmer, M. V., S., Ciccarelli, M., & Flalkmer, T. (2015). Experiences of facilitators or barriers in driving education from learner and novice drivers with ADHD or ASD and their driving instructors. Developmental Neurorehabilitation, electronic, 1-9. https://doi.org/10.3109/17518423.2015.1058299

Chee, D., Lee, H., Patomella, A., & Falkmer, T. (2019). The visual search patterns of drivers with autism spectrum disorders in complex driving scenarios. Journal of Transport & Health, 14, 1-9. https://doi.org/https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jth.2019.100597

Curry, A., Metzger, K. B., Carey, M. E., ASartin, E. B., Huang, P., & Yerys, B. E. (2021). Comparison of motor vehicle crashes, traffic violations, and license suspensions between autistic and non-autistic adolescent and young adult drivers. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. https://doi.org/https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jaac.2021.01.001

Wilson, N. J., Stevens, A., Srasuebkul, P., Kersten, M., Lin, Z., Trollor, J. N., & Arnold, S. R. C. (2021). Exploring the relationship between community mobility and quality of life, employment and completing further education for autistic adults. Journal of Transport & Health, 22, 1-11. https://doi.org/https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jth.2021.101117

Resources

Physicians, healthcare professionals, and rehabilitation therapists can be helpful in the journey from deciding whether to pursue driving and learning how to drive.

You may want to seek an Occupational Therapist who specializes in autism and driving as well as driver rehabilitation specialists that have additional knowledge about autism.

Things to consider before pursing driving

Driving requires executive function skills that have their foundation in many activities of daily living. This is a small sample of life skills to help prepare for driving.

Drivers with Autism
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University of Kentucky 
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Beth Rolland
Upstate University Hospital of Syracuse
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Megan Coulter
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Jenny Gribbin
Occupational Therapist
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Owner Pathways Rehabilitation Services, LLC
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Bryson
USA
My daughter, who is on the autism spectrum, used Drive Focus to help prepare for behind the wheel driving lessons. Her ability to recognize and prioritize signals, traffic, and potential hazards increased dramatically. She enjoyed the app and gained a lot of self-confidence.
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Kim
USA
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Susie Touchinsky
Adaptive Mobility Services, LLC
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Gwen
USA
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