These are the kids that get overlooked and fall through the cracks and get told they cannot drive, and we love proving these Nay Sayer's wrong, because yes, they can drive! It just takes a little more time and a little more patience. For High Functioning Special Needs (ASD) individuals with severe intellectual disabilities, getting a driver's license is an achievable and realistic goal. While no one really knows what causes Autism, there is a general agreement when it comes to defining what Autism is.
Autism Spectrum Disorder and (ASD) and Autism are both general terms for a group of complex disorders of the brain development. These disorders are characterized to varying degrees, by difficulties in social interactions verbal and non-verbal communication and repetitive behavior. They include Autistic disorder, Rett syndrome, Childhood Disintegrative disorder, Pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS) and Asperger syndrome. Autism Spectrum Disorder can be associated with intellectual disability, difficulties in motor coordination and attention and physical health issues. Some individuals with ASD excel in visual skills, music, math, art, etc.
The puzzle that is used as a universal symbol for Autism explains just how different each person with Autism is. It is a great puzzle of varied disabilities, each piece being unique and fitting only just so to explain the big picture of that person. The medical profession is quite new to discovering how to treat these disorders and parents have formed numerous support groups to just be able to function day-to-day.
Even though teachers are the ones we run to the most, they are also learning from these children every day and developing new ways to guide them on the learning path, we are all learning together. Here at Safety First we strive to make a better world for these children. Many studies have been conducted over the last decade discovering how many ASD and Special Needs individuals are able to obtain and successfully use a driver's license. Autistic teens who drive fared better than their peers, that only 12% of Autistic teen drivers had gotten a ticket or been involved in an accident, according to one study, compared with the 31% and 22% of all teens that have gotten a ticket or been in an accident, respectively. Researchers found promising results for the future of Autistic drivers when it was recorded that 1 in 3 teens who have Autism and no intellectual disability can earn a driver license, but it may take more time to achieve this goal, but it is possible. It is important for moms and dads to know their child's limitations and set their driving restrictions, such as not driving at night or on busy highways.
We here at Safety First work directly with Special Needs individuals, their families, their primary care physicians, therapists, and any other important members of their treatment team, before embarking on this journey to determine their readiness for driving. Ultimately, determining the readiness to drive is often a personal and a family decision. It also depends on the individual's interest in learning to drive. If an individual does not have the desire to drive, there is little reason to embark on the endeavor. Instructors who specialize in or have training working with individuals with special needs can also be consulted prior to starting lessons. We can provide behind-the-wheel lessons when the student is ready. If the individual is ready and they are motivated to learn, have a supportive family, and the right instructors, it can help make the goal of becoming a licensed driver a reality. Getting a driver’s license offers a certain level of freedom, and it is a rite of passage for many young adults. Special Needs presents unique challenges that can impact how someone learns to drive, but it is possible. These special needs teens and adults can successfully learn to drive safely, defensively, and undistracted. Like anyone learning to drive, autistic individuals must take exceptional care in learning the rules of the road and how to safely operate a vehicle. Sometimes, extra attention to certain driving-related skills is needed to offset some of the difficulties presented by Autism.
Challenges that Special Needs Students without intellectual disability face that impact driving ability include impairments in:
Consider these questions to determine driving readiness:
Although there is a minimum age in each state for when you can get your license, it does not mean you have to get it as soon as you turn 16. You may be ready to start learning to drive, or you may feel more prepared to learn in a few years. An open conversation with your family and support team will help determine when the right time for you to start learning to drive.
There is no law that prohibits individuals with special needs from learning how to drive. The most critical issue for everyone is Safety. Determining when someone with special needs is ready to drive depends on many factors, such as interest in driving, ability to multitask, personal judgment, and maturity level. Again, it is wise to consult with your child’s care team and support team and ask your child if they are ready before deciding on readiness.
When Researching driving schools, it can be beneficial to find a school that specializes in working with individuals with special needs that will help you find a program that best fits your needs. As prevalence rates and awareness of Autism are growing, programs are expanding services to meet the needs of this unique population.
Instructing your Child with Special Needs to Drive If you have a child with special needs that has expressed interest in learning how to drive, it is important for you to know that THEY CAN DO IT. Learning to drive is a major step in the transition into adulthood for many adolescents. Young adults with and without special needs have personal, social, and employment related reasons for wanting to learn how to drive. For special needs individuals, it is essential that their support team is fully on board with them learning how to drive.
The process of teaching any teen or young adult how to drive can be stressful. Parents of special needs children face additional challenges in this process. Here are some tips for parents of a special needs child who is learning to drive: