Driving with ASD Can Be a Struggle

Driving with ASD Can Be a Struggle
By Nikki Zinzuwadia

A driver’s license can open opportunities for people with autism to live more free and independent lives. For teens and young adults on the spectrum, it can increase access to educational, employment, social, and community opportunities. However, autistic teens and adults have unique challenges to driving. For many parents, the decision to teach their children with autism to drive is often met with significant hesitation.

A 2017 study by the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia found that only one in three adolescents with autism spectrum disorder and no intellectual disability hold an intermediate driver’s license. In 2018, a driving simulator study suggested that young adults with autism may experience difficulty grasping basic driving skills compared to
their peers.

Underlying health issues such as brain inflammation, vision problems, gut and immune dysfunction and others can be major obstacles that deter autistic teens and adults from driving. While driving, these barriers can impact their abilities to perceive dangerous situations on the road and scan their environments for social and non-social hazards.

On a positive note, other research and statistics show that these early difficulties smooth out and disappear with experience. Many of these challenges can be addressed and autistic teens and adults can become safe, confident drivers. Identifying and overcoming the obstacles that hold people with autism back from driving is essential to
their success on the road. Stay tuned to the blog for resources, tips and research on how to do just that.