Teen With Autism Reluctant To Drive Should This Parent Push
My son, who has autism, is not sure if he wants to learn to drive. Hes nervous about getting into an accident. He follows laws, is very careful and has driven go carts. His coordination is clumsy in games like catch or basketball. But he has good balance. Im encouraging him to be open about the idea. What are your thoughts?
Todays Got Questions? answer is by psychologist Cathryn Lehman, of the Center for Autism and Developmental Disorders, at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. The medical center is one of 14 sites in the Autism Speaks Autism Treatment Network.
What a great question! Of course, many parents grapple with this topic to one degree or another. How do I know if and when my child is ready to drive? The level of concern is understandably elevated when your child has autism.
Its important to remember that theres no set rule to determine when someone is ready to drive, regardless of autism-related challenges. Some teenagers feel ready to drive as soon as theyre old enough. Others wait several years or choose the alternative of navigating their local public transportation system.
Often, life circumstances play the largest role in the decision-making process. For example, if your son is going to be responsible for commuting to and from college or a job, learning to drive may become an important component of his independence. However, if theres a bus or subway stop nearby, learning to drive may not be imperative.
How Can Autism Affect My Childs Ability To Drive
As ASD diagnoses exist on a broad spectrum, every person will have a unique set of symptoms that can affect driving safety.
Individuals with more intermediate complications of autism may struggle with maintaining focus and concentration, and may also have difficulty with the quick problem solving and judgment required on the road. This can be especially prominent in adverse conditions, like at night or in inclement weather.
Finally, for those with more severe complications of autism, it may be very difficult or impossible to manage the rules of the road, stay focused with a number of distractions, and stay focused in what can be a highly stressful and unpredictable environment at times.
Driving With Autism Spectrum Disorder
Learning to drive can be a challenge for anyone, but the reward of freedom, mobility, and independence can be life-changing. For individuals with autism spectrum disorder , there can be additional challenges, but the resulting freedom and mobility can be just as empowering.
While over 70% of high school seniors have a drivers license, this number drops to around 30% for those diagnosed with a form of autism.
In some cases, drivers with autism may feel overwhelmed by the many tasks, rules, and considerations involved in driving. For others, concern from parents or loved ones may keep them from learning, while the young adult is ready to drive and eager to learn the skills of the road.
In this article, well discuss autism and how it can affect your childs driving abilities. Then well touch on some ways your child can prepare to drive with the help of a driving specialist, and reach a new level of mobility and independence.
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Can Autistic People Drive Like Their Peers
Can autistic people drive? Yes, they can! It might require a little more care, planning, and preparation, but every teen and young adult is different, whether they have an ASD diagnosis or not.
Find a school that is ready to handle your teen’s unique needs to learn to drive. Contact us today about our specialized programs to meet your ASD needs.
Tips For Helping People With Autism Learn How To Drive
The main goal in teaching autistic individuals how to drive is safety. The following tips can help you teach someone with autism how to drive:
- Give them plenty of opportunities to practice. You want to start small and gradually increase the amount of time spent behind the wheel.
- Start with short drives and work up to longer ones.
- Teach them about distractions.
- It is important that you explain to your student about distractions like cell phones, radios, pets, and other cars.
- Explain the importance of obeying the speed limit and keeping calm when other traffic participants break the rules of the road. People with autism often have trouble understanding the concept of speed limits. They may think that speeding is safe because everyone does it.
- Take frequent breaks during driving lessons to avoid overwhelming them and allow them to integrate each piece of new information.
- Use familiar roads until they become comfortable with driving. New routes can be frightening and cause anxiety so they should be avoided until the student can handle the vehicle and traffic with confidence in familiar surroundings.
Although many people with autism struggle with driving, there are ways in which driving can be made safer for them and the learning process easier.
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Many Young People With Autism Can Become Safe Drivers: Study
TUESDAY, June 19, 2018 — Letting any teen behind the wheel of a car is nerve-wracking for parents, but if your teen has autism, you may wonder if driving is even possible.
Well, a new study offers some comfort because it found that kids with autism who aren’t intellectually disabled are probably capable of driving a car safely, though they may need more practice time before they get their license.
The small study found that young people with autism had more trouble maintaining their speed and staying in their lane on driving simulators than their peers without autism. But in a small subgroup of drivers who were already licensed, the researchers saw no significant differences in driving between the group with autism and the group without.
“In the ASD community, there’s a lot of reluctance when it comes to driving, and parents may assume teens will have driving problems,” said study author Kristina Patrick. She was a Ph.D. student at Drexel University in Philadelphia at the time the study was conducted.
“Driving is a complex task, and people with autism may do best learning gradually. We’re not trying to say that people with ASDs can’t drive, but it may be harder for them early on,” she explained. Patrick is now a pediatric neuropsychology fellow at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio.
Thomas Frazier, chief science officer for Autism Speaks, agreed with Patrick.
Learn more about autism and driving from Autism Speaks.
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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We Cancel Plans At The Last Minute
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.
To Drive Or Not To Drive That Is The Question
For young people on the spectrum and for their families, this is a BIG question.
Our son is almost 21 now and has had his driving license for two years. So we are able to reflect back on our decisions at the start of his life behind the wheel. And there are definitely some things we wouldnât do again.
Here are our familyâs top tips for people who are wondering whether learning to drive is for them.
No need to rushWe waited until our son was asking to learn to drive. This happened when he was almost 18, much later than his peers.
When he was younger I sometimes encouraged him to do things that his peers were doing but which he wasnât ready for, like joining sports teams. That was all about me not him.
So these days thereâs no rush, when he is ready to make some change he asks by himself.
Does your son or daughter really need to learn to drive?This depends on where you live of course. Our house is deep in the Sydney suburbs and a long way from the nearest bus stop. It makes our sonâs life so much easier to drive. It makes mine and my husbandâs much, much easier too.
Our son drives to his supported workplace four days a week. It isnât actually a long drive, maybe 15 minutes. But it would take over an hour if he went by public transport plus walking to the bus stop.
We gave him lifts up and down to the bus stop for years and itâs splendid not to, especially since we are still flat out with the younger kids.
Driving With Autism Resources
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How To Drive A Car If You’re Autistic
wikiHow is a wiki, similar to Wikipedia, which means that many of our articles are co-written by multiple authors. To create this article, 16 people, some anonymous, worked to edit and improve it over time.There are 17 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been viewed 13,722 times.Learn more…
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.
Newly Licensed Autistic Drivers Crash Less Than Other Young Drivers
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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The Role Of Neuronal Hyperexcitability
The researchers first inhibited the expression of SHANK3 in the neural networks of the reward system in order to identify the other genes whose expression was modified. Several genes related to the inflammatory system were detected, including one of them, Trpv4, which is also involved in the functioning of communication channels between neurons. By inducing massive inflammation, we observed an overexpression of Trpv4, which then led to a neuronal hyperexcitability concomitant to the onset of social avoidance behaviors that our mice did not exhibit until now, stresses Camilla Bellone. Moreover, by inhibiting Trpv4, the scientists were able to restore normal social behavior.
This provides evidence that autistic disorders are indeed the result of an interaction between a genetic susceptibility and an external triggerin this case, massive inflammation. Neuronal hyperexcitability disrupts communication channels, thereby altering the brain circuits governing social behavior. This would also explain why the same genetic predisposition can lead, depending on the environmental factors encountered and the type of inflammation they trigger, to a diversity of symptoms of equally variable severity.
What Do You Need To Know About Independent Contractors
Less hiring paperwork, fewer reports, and payments to the IRS. But, as the hiring employer, there are still some things you must do to hire that independent contractor and start paying that person. What Is an Independent Contractor? An independent contractor is an individual who does work for another individual or company.
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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
Resources For Autistic Individuals Learning To Drive
If you and your family have determined that you are ready to learn to drive, there are many resources available to assist you, including many online driving resources.
Information on driving basics, how to determine if you are a safe driver, how to get your license, and more can be found at the following sites:
- TeenDriving.com: This site covers information about drivers education options, driving for the first time, the driving tests, how to gain experience, and graduated license programs. It also includes a list of questions to help you assess if you are a safe driver or not.
- DriversEd.com: This site offers online courses that teach drivers education for teens and adults, as well as in-car driving lessons, traffic school, practice permit tests, and DMV information.
- Driving Tests: Free practice tests, as well as tests to purchase, are offered at this site to help you study for and pass your DMV exams.
- Virtual Drive USA: This site offers you a way to complete your drivers education requirements online. Courses are taken online at your own pace. Additional study guides are available to help you pass the learners permit test.
When researching driving schools, it can be beneficial to find a school that specializes in working with individuals with autism or other developmental disabilities. Here is a selection of driving schools that specialize in teaching autistic students how to drive:
Autism And Learning To Drive
As the parent to an autistic child, you know sometimes it takes a village to help them grow and learn in their own unique way. The same can be true for their driving instructor.
Find a driving school prepared to work with someone with a disability and unique needs. Like teachers, not all driving instructors are created equal. At Colonial Driving School, each teacher is trained in teaching special needs students.
Talk to the instructor about how your teen learns best. Explain their learning style and unique needs. They might need to hear directions sooner than another driver so they have time to process information, for example. One-on-one driving lessons can offer the perfect environment for this instruction.