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Can Autistic People Drive

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Communication Impediment In Vehicle Registration

Can Autistic Teens Drive?

The option for disclosure of a communication disability/impediment when registering a vehicle through the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles. Communication Impediment will then be privately placed in the Texas Law Enforcement Telecommunication System thus alerting the officer of the challenge PRIOR to approaching the vehicle in a pull-over scenario. Form VTR-216 must be completed by a licensed physician if the applicant has a physical health condition or a licensed physician, licensed psychologist, or a non-physician mental health professional if the applicant has a mental health condition.

How To Drive A Car If You’re Autistic

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Driving can be especially challenging for autistic people. While some people on the spectrum are unable to drive safely, others learn how to do so, even if it takes longer. Many autistics are competent drivers and some even make a living as driving instructors.XResearch source If you think you are confident enough to drive a vehicle of your own, it’ll make your life a lot easier and you’ll be more independent.

How Complicated Driving Can Be When Someone Perceives The World Differently

Keeping track of everything going on around me, all the others vehicles, traffic lights, signs, pedestrians, handling the car itself, was all just too much for me to cope with. In the back of my mind was the ever-present realization that operating a vehicle on the road could possibly result in an accident, either fatal to myself or others as well.

This type of situation is one where it might be important to have someone who is a Certified Autism Specialist present to make sure that they can better understand what the person with autism is going through. Any time someone is in a car it is important to make sure that everyone is as safe as possible, and this would go a long way for safety.

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Scientific Research On Autism And Driving

Despite the prevalence of ASD, it wasnt until recently that we had definitive scientific research looking into the relationship between driving and autism.

A 2017 study published in the journal Autism looked at the relationship between autism and driving with a large sample of New Jersey teens. Researchers cross-referenced the medical records of over 50,000 NJ teens with state driving records, identifying 609 teens that had been diagnosed with ASD. Some key findings included:

  • 34% of teens diagnosed with autism obtained a drivers license. Non-autistic teens earned drivers licenses at a rate of 83%.
  • 89.7% of those autistic teens progressed from a learners permit to a intermediate drivers license within 2 years. This compares to 98% of teens without autism.
  • Teens with autism took, on average, 9 months longer than non-autistic teens to progress from learners permit to intermediate license.

Interpretation: This study highlights the fact that a large percentage of teens with high-functioning autism are driving. It also tells us that, given the high success rate, most families with autistic teens are doing a good job of deciding on a teens potential to drive before obtaining a permit. Lastly, it shows that teens with autism take longer, on average, to learn the required driving skills or that parents are simply more cautious in the learning process.

Why Might Someone On The Autism Spectrum Be Afraid To Drive

Driving Lessons Shrewsbury with Sharon

There are reasons why an individual with autism might be fearful of driving. One aspect is that driving is somewhat of a social function you have to read the driving scene. There are also the risks of not being able to stay focused while driving, handling the constant changes that occur while driving, and dealing with the unexpected. Its nonstop multi-tasking in a moving object, surrounded by other moving objects, possibly at high rates of speed.

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Tips And Resources For Specific Types Of Travel

Most people with autism can and should be able to walk around the neighborhood or through a grocery store independently. Many can use public transportation, including buses, trains, and planes, with appropriate support. There are also support organizations that can help with travel by air, sea, and ride-sharing.

Only a limited number of people with autism, however, can safely drive a car. Thats not because adults with autism cant master the physical process of driving , but because safe driving requires an ability to read the mind of other drivers who may be driving erratically, stopping short, or otherwise creating hazards.

Why Are People With Autism At Higher Risk Of Covid

The higher risks of COVID-19 that researchers found in people with autism arent due to the developmental or intellectual disabilities themselves, but rather because people with them are more likely to live in a group setting, be unable to communicate about having symptoms, or have trouble understanding or following safety measures, according to the CDC.

Sometimes it is difficult for people with ASD to wear masks and keep social distancing, themselves and others at increased risk of spreading or acquiring COVID-19, says Robert Hendren, DO, a psychiatrist and the director of the program for research on neurodevelopmental and translational outcomes at the University of California in San Francisco.

Early symptoms may be overlooked because people with ASD may not be able to express their discomforts, such as sore throat. If someone with ASD gets COVID-19, they may have a very difficult time being in the hospital and receiving treatments that are unfamiliar, uncomfortable, and potentially scary, Dr. Hendren explains.

Further, and as noted by the authors of the NEJM Catalyst report, people with intellectual disabilities are more likely to have other health problems at the same time that put them at higher risk for infection and COVID-19 disease, such as heart disease, obesity, and diabetes. Banks says this is true of people with ASD as well.

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Im Autistic Am I Eligible

If you have autism, you can see if youre eligible for the Motability Scheme by using our eligibility checker. The next step after that is making an appointment to visit a Scheme specialist at your nearest dealerto pick out and test drive cars. You can prepare for your visit in advance using our handy dealer visit checklists which should help you narrow down your options.

If youd like to find out more about the Scheme, request an information pack below and well send you all the information that you need to make the right choice.

We Cancel Plans At The Last Minute

Autism and Driving: Will I be able to drive?

Its always a bit of a gut punch when youre all dolled up ready to head out and, suddenly, your partner in crime cancels. But, whats more frustrating is when that person comes out with some lame excuse for why, i.e. my car broke down whilst I was on the way to wash my hair and I suddenly came down with the flu as my dog ate my homework

In reality, the autistic person in question would probably prefer to have had all the above happened as, the truth is, they likely have been hit by a truck of anxiety. This has been the case for me on so many occasions and, believe me, no matter how disappointed you are with us, we are likely to feel twice as bad about it ourselves.

So, if this happens to you, try and not pile onto our woes and maybe encourage us to open up about the thoughts holding us back. If we mention that we do want to go out, but are anxious about the unexpected, offer us a get out of jail free card by saying something like We can leave whenever you want . Furthermore, if the anxiety really is too much, why not move the evening plans to a lesser packed venue, such as someones home? Fun doesnt always have to involve overpriced drinks.

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The Texas Disability Act: Ensuring Accessibility For All

Persons and employees with disabilities must have access to the same telecommunications products and services as those without disabilities, such as telephones and other telecommunications services, as those without disabilities, under the Texas Disability Act. Information kiosks are available for use. If you suspect that communication is being hampered by law enforcement, the Communication Impedance with a Peace Officer restriction code is available for free on Texas State ID and Driver Licenses. This code is on a drivers license to indicate that the driver may be having difficulty communicating with law enforcement. The Texas Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services provides a Driver Identification Visor Card to drivers who are deaf or hard of hearing. In a traffic stop, this card can be worn on your visor to indicate that you are deaf or hard of hearing.

Do People With Autism Struggle With Driving

by Drexel University

In the first pilot study asking adults on the autism spectrum about their experiences with driving, researchers at Drexel University found significant differences in self-reported driving behaviors and perceptions of driving ability in comparison to non-autistic adults. As the population of adults with autism continues growing rapidly, the survey provides a first step toward identifying whether this population has unmet needs for educational supports to empower safe driving a key element of independent functioning in many peoples lives.

Previous research in my lab has included extensive research in driving capacity with people who have a variety of conditions such as multiple sclerosis or who had experienced traumatic brain injury, said study co-author Maria Schultheis, PhD, an associate professor of psychology at Drexel. When we investigate whether and under what circumstances a condition or neurological difference might affect driving ability, as a standard starting point we want to go to individuals and find out from their perspective what problems they are having on the road, in their real-world experience. That question is pivotal to shape and inform the goals of long-term research and is especially important when we turn to look at a developmental difference like autism, where there has been too little research to establish yet whether widespread driving difficulties exist.

Explore further

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Can Autistic People Drive In Texas

Anyone with a communication impediment such as autism, deafness, Aspergers syndrome, or other types of communication disorders can now apply for a license under a new law that is the first of its kind in the country. The law, named after 24-year-old Samuel Allen, is dedicated to people with Aspergers syndrome.

If you or your autistic teen completes the necessary preparation and individualized training, he or she may be able to drive a vehicle safely. Individuals with autism must meet the same requirements as anyone else in order to obtain a drivers license in their state. A study discovered that autistic people are less likely to receive traffic tickets and have their driving privileges suspended. People with autism are capable of driving a car and obtaining a drivers license. Some people who are learning to drive may experience difficulties in executive functioning and communication. Some of their peers strengths, such as being able to adhere to driving procedures and road rules, may be lacking in autistic individuals.

Its astounding to me how many autistic people pass the intermediate license exam within two years of their learners permit. With the right support and resources, people with autism can live full lives and drive a car. It is critical to remember that autism does not always affect ones ability to drive. To maximize ones life, it is critical to provide support and resources to those who can drive.

Helping My Husband Get His License

Things Not to Say To Someone in a Wheelchair

Last November, a year ago, I helped my autistic husband Abraham get his drivers license. I came up with a plan that worked beautifully! As a person with autism, I know how we tend to thrive on routine and do best when in our comfort zone. So heres what I had him do in order to build that comfort zone behind the wheel.

Repetition in Safe Circumstances to Build Confidence is the Key to Success

First, we went outside to my truck in the driveway. I got in the passengers seat, and Abraham in the drivers seat. I told him to first buckle up his seat belt, then put the key in the ignition and start it up. Once started, I told him to shut it off and just sit there a bit. I then told him to get out, go back to house and come out and do it all over, 10 times!

So he did it all, 10 times.

It took awhile, but by the 10th time, he did it so routinely as if hed been doing it for years.

Once he was totally comfortable with that, I had him back up the truck in the driveway between all the trees, then go forward to the starting point. Again, 10 times.

Then I had him go out the driveway to the subdivision across the street, drive throughout the quiet, meandering road there, then return to our driveway. Again, yes, 10 times.

I then taught him to parallel park 10 times, of course!

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Research In The Future Adults In The Now

Many individuals with ASD, like many of their parents, are not inclined to wait for the results of research studies. Teenagers and adults visiting — an online community for people with autism and Asperger syndrome — expressed a host of frustrations, worries, and feelings of accomplishment in recent discussions about driving.

One young man, a good driver but nevertheless nervous about having to parallel park during his upcoming driver’s test, wondered: “How did other Aspies deal with obtaining their licenses? Was it very stressful? Were you relieved afterwards? Also, is common for high functioning autistics to have licenses?” 24

Another poster, having recently earned her driver’s license, offered him this advice, “I had the same worries you about parallel parking. Most instructors will see you know what you’re doing, and won’t expect a ‘blindfold perfect’ parking job. They know that the test is very nerve wracking. Just make sure to follow the rules of the road, and you’ll be fine. Make sure it looks as if you’re aware of your surroundings .” 25

A young man likewise offered reassurance and posted an exhaustive list of the specific skills involved in driving, including more than two dozen items broken down by subject heading.26

The following day, the original poster wrote: “Today, at 3:40, I obtained my drivers license! I am so happy right now….” 27

See IAN’s section on Adults with Autism for more articles on teens and adults on the spectrum.

How Do I Know If My Child With Autism Will Be Able To Drive

Everyone with an ASD is unique, so theres no one set of rules that determines whether or not theyll be comfortable behind the wheel. However, there are a few considerations you can start with.

  • Can they adapt quickly to changes, or do these situations cause them distress?
  • Do they have the complex motor skills needed to safely operate a vehicle?
  • Can they stay focused enough to make quick, appropriate decisions in a distracting environment?
  • Can they hold that focus for a long period of time?
  • Do they have enough situational awareness to notice potential obstacles and effectively react?
  • Do they have difficulty multi-tasking?

These questions can be difficult to answer without experience behind the wheel, which is why we recommend that your child works with a Certified Driver Rehabilitation Specialist.

These driving experts can work one-on-one with your child to understand their unique situations, their skills, and how they can take steps to start driving safely and confidently.

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How Can Autism Affect My Ability To Drive

Benjamin Yerys of the Center for Autism Research remarks that ASD can affect decision-making, information processing and attention to varying degrees.

There are no laws against driving while autistic. But driving can be a very stressful and difficult task for everyone. Autistic people that have an intellectual disability may have trouble adapting to quickly changing situations due to slower reaction times or handling the multitasking that is sometimes required for safe driving.

Drivers with autism should take extra care when driving. They may need to pay attention to many things at once, and they may find it hard to deal with rapid changes. Some drivers with autism may also have trouble keeping up with traffic.

Some symptoms of ASD that can potentially cause issues while driving include:

  • Deficient decision-making
  • Impatience and frustration when encountering traffic delays
  • Sensitivity to light and sound

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Newly Licensed Autistic Drivers Crash Less Than Other Young Drivers

Autism And Driving – The Secret To Overcoming The Issues (MUST WATCH!)

A collaborative study from the Center for Injury Research and Prevention and the Center for Autism Research at Childrens Hospital of Philadelphia found that compared with their non-autistic peers, young autistic drivers have lower rates of moving violations and license suspensions, as well as similar to lower crash rates.

The findings were recently published online by theJournal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.

Obtaining a drivers license is an important milestone for adolescents and young adults. One-third of autistic individuals without intellectual disability obtain their drivers license by the time they are 21 years old, increasing their mobility as they transition to adulthood.

Prior studies with driving simulators suggested that autistic drivers may be at higher risk for motor vehicle crashes, since autism spectrum disorder can affect motor coordination and visual processing speed, both critical skills for safe driving. However, no previous research has objectively looked at the real-world risk of crashes and traffic violations among autistic adolescent and young adult drivers. This knowledge would help pinpoint specific skills instructors can build upon and inform tailored practice driving interventions and lessons to increase young autistic driver safety.

Contact: Ben Leach, The Childrens Hospital of Philadelphia, 267-426-2857 or

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