Worry about police interactions are among the top concerns we hear from new drivers with ASD and their parents. Police interactions can be nerve racking for any driver, but may be particularly challenging for those with ASD who are adversely impacted by sensory issues and/or anxiety (think bright lights, sirens, making eye contact and interacting with an officer.) Sensory overload of this magnitude could lead to a meltdown.
The topic of including driving skills in an IEP (Individualized Education Plan) is one that hasn't been pursued enough. According to the IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act,) which are federal guidelines to ensure students with disabilities are provided a Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE,) transportation is a "related service" and can include travel to and from school. This is a great jumping off point for a discussion about including driving an IEP. Driving, and skills important for successful driving, such as anxiety and sensory management, are life skills. Life skills are important for every student, and should be part of the post-secondary transition planning for students utilizing special education services until the age of 22. The argument can easily be made that driving is a life skill, critical for gaining employment, independence and social connections, and should be included in the IEP. Many of our students with ASD don't begin the driving journey until their mid-20s. However, there is much that can be worked on outside of the driver seat
One of the biggest challenges surrounding driving with Autism Spectrum Disorder is the stimulus that you can encounter as a driver. While it can seem like a lot, it can also be manageable, especially if you have a plan. I'll highlight some quick tips here, but recommend taking our webinar series if you are interested in a deeper dive into stimulus behind the wheel. There are 3 main senses we will focus on: touch, sight and sound.
Imagine the following scenarios: Traffic makes you inevitably late for your morning appointment. Loud sirens with bright lights are coming from behind you. You get out to your car and your tire is flat. Driving is neither predictable nor scripted. While unforeseen circumstances are inevitable, the more prepared you are for them, the better. Our Driving with ASD webinar series addresses ways in which you can do just that! Here are a few quick tips to get you started.
Perhaps your young adult is asking you about driving, but you aren't quite ready. Or perhaps you desperately want your son or daughter to begin driving, but they have no interest. Driving for a neurotypical teen causes stress and fear in families. Autism adds another layer of complexity.