Is it legal to drive for autistic persons?
Yes, autistic people can drive legally. To obtain a driver’s licence in their state, autistic people must meet the same requirements as others who aren’t on the spectrum.
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Sometimes, autistic people may need to wait longer to get a driver’s licence. One study found that autistic teens take on average 2 years to get a license. Driving is possible with the right training and preparation. It also requires persistence and patience.
Autism may make driving difficult
An autistic person can obtain a driver’s licence without any legal restrictions. There are some safety issues and challenges to be aware of, such as reduced motor skills and difficulty multitasking.
According to research, autistic drivers may have the following problems:
There are challenges in focusing on your driving and paying attention to other drivers on the road.
- Road hazards are detected more slowly
- Being easily distracted
- Not being too influenced by the rules
- Inability to recognize social cues such as tailgating
- Nervousness due to comorbidities like ADHD and anxiety
- Low self-confidence
- Driving and autism are strengths
Research also suggests that autistic drivers possess certain strengths that others drivers might not have. These strengths include:
- Willingness to adhere to all driving rules
- Traffic rules must be observed
- Speeding is a limited risk that can be taken.
- Paying more attention to the overall driving environment
- Being able to recall details and information over long periods of time
Research also suggests that young autistic people are less likely than other drivers to be issued traffic tickets or have their licenses suspended. Crash risks for new drivers are also similar.
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How to determine if your autistic child can drive?
Driving is an essential life skill that can help you travel for school, work and socialization. However, it’s important that your autistic teen express an interest in driving before taking formal lessons. Engaging in lessons can keep them interested, and they will want to continue practicing.
It’s also a good idea to talk about driving with your child’s pediatrician. If your doctor feels that you require additional support, it is possible to get related therapies before your child turns 18.
Your teen’s ability to perform other self-care tasks on their own is another indicator of driver readiness. This could include house chores, self-hygiene and schoolwork.
What training or therapy might help an autistic person learn how to drive?
The following options are available if you’re looking to provide specialized training and therapies that can help autistic people learn how to drive:
Occupational therapy (OT).
OT has been used traditionally in autism to aid with daily living skills, fine and gross motor skills and social skills. These abilities may also improve your ability drive a car.
Talk to your occupational therapist if you are currently working with one. They can help you during therapy sessions by discussing your driving goals. Ask your primary care physician for a referral if you do not currently attend OT.
Driving schools and instructors
- Some public schools offer driving lessons for teens. However, it is possible to get additional training at an outside driving school. Ask prospective driving schools if they have driving instructors who are certified to teach autistic drivers, or driving rehabilitation specialists.
- Are there any tips that can be helpful for autistic individuals who learn or are learning to drive?
- These tips will help you, or a loved one with autism, learn how to drive.
- You should practice as much as you can, both with a parent-supervised instructor and with a formal driving instructor.
- Each skill can be broken down into smaller parts.
- Repetition is key for every driving lesson.
- To help your learner remember the steps, you might use written, verbal or visual scripts before each drive.
- Practice driving at night and in all weather conditions with your learner.
Prepare your child for unexpected situations, such as how to pull over a car safely in the event of an accident, tire change, or interaction with police officers.