How to learn to drive with Autism

ASD stands for Autism Spectrum Disorder and is a neurobehavioral condition which affects more than one in 100 people in the UK. Those who have autism tend to see the world around them differently to others, often struggling the ability to interact and communicate with ease. Autism disrupts several different key everyday skills such as social skills and speech with repetitive behaviour also being very common.

Autism is often diagnosed at an early age; apparent signs can usually be noticed around the age of 2-3. ASD includes a range of conditions on the spectrum; this helps to categorise the level of difficulty an individual experiences. Autism is diagnosed through an intense full assessment by a number of different experts including speech and language therapists and psychologists.

As ASD affects different areas of the brain, several different tasks increase in difficulty, one of which is learning to drive. Driving with autism can prove tricky but is most definitely achievable.

Tips For Driving With Autism

With research, there are many driving schools which specialise in teaching those with different conditions at different complexities. There are also, in fact, some driving instructors who also have Autism and can relate to you on a closer lever. Here at driveJohnson’s, we have successfully helped many different pupils with Autism to pass their test and get on the roads independently.

Autism affects driving differently for each person, some find learning to drive an extremely easy task, and others find driving increasingly difficult. Driving is all about coordination and the ability to multitask while still staying focused on your surroundings, which is tricky enough for a first-time driver.

For those with autism, who are learning to drive or starting driving lessons soon, here are a few simple tips for driving with Autism:

  • Be open with your instructor: Your instructor’s job is to help you to become a confident driver, so talk with them initially about areas in which you are worried about and particular struggles. They will alter lessons to suit and help you as much as they can.
  • Take regular breaks: Taking regular breaks in longer lessons can help to digest all of the new information you have been taught, so they are more likely to stick in your mind.
  • Use visual representations: Most instructors have a handheld teaching guide, which includes detailed guides, diagrams and explanations. Make full use of these and see whether you can take one home to look over to refresh yourself before lessons.
  • Take advantage of a taster lesson: Taster lessons are a fantastic way to test out whether you feel comfortable and happy with your instructor. They give you a chance to get used to the basics of driving.
  • Consider a pass plus course: Once you have passed your practical test, there is still a lot of learning left to do. Getting used to driving alone without the support of dual controls and taking on motorways are just some of the few aspects. Taking a pass plus course can take only a day and give you a chance to get just a little bit more practice in your own car with an instructor.
  • Practice makes perfect: They say practice makes perfect, and it is, in fact, true. The more driving practice to have, the more it will start to become second nature, and you will get into the routine.

UK Provisional Licence

Inform The DVSA When Applying For A Provisional

An individual with autism has no limitations when applying for a provisional license; applications are still through the DVSA. However, you must inform the DVSA of your condition, which will only include submitting an additional form.

The DVSA cannot stop you from driving; they just need to be aware of your full medical background including any slight aspect that may have an impact on your driving. This is exactly for same for those who have conditions such as epilepsy or suffer from visual impairments. Failure to inform the DVSA may result in up to a £1,000 fine.

How To Simplify Your Theory Test

The great thing about taking your driving theory test is that if you worry that you may struggle, the test centre can put in extra adjustments to make it easier for you. You can request extra time or for someone to sit with you to break down the questions.

No one should be at a disadvantage when taking their theory test and your theory test centre will try to help as much as possible. We once had a pupil who was taking driving lessons in Scarborough and was nervous to tell his local test centre he had Autism and ask for additional time, so kept running short of time and had to repay for another test. After speaking to his instructor, they went together to the test centre and requested for extra time, they were incredibly helpful and our pupil then passed straight away. It proves that it pays to be honest and let others help!

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