By Nikki Zinzuwadia
While having a driver’s license can open the door to greater educational, employment, and social opportunities, it can be difficult for people with autism to get behind the wheel and improve their driving skills. Remember this: Preparing to drive is not the same as learning to drive. Autistic teens and adults have unique challenges that can deter them from driving, and they need proper guidance in order to safely navigate the learning-to-drive process.
A new five-year study at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, led by Allison E. Curry, PhD, MPH, will be the first to use a naturalistic driving approach to observe everyday driver behavior among ASD teens. By analyzing details of the driver, the vehicle, and the driver’s surroundings, and engaging with specialized driver educators and training programs, Dr. Curry and her research team hope to discover how to best support autistic teens and understand their learning needs.
Today, hundreds of thousands of autistic teens and adults are ready for an opportunity to gain independence and more fully experience life. A full, rich life awaits many on the autism spectrum, but what they need is a true ACTION PLAN to get them where they want to go. With effective preparation and tools, people with autism can become safer, better drivers and be set up for success both on the road and in their day-to-day lives.
By highlighting tips, resources, and the latest research, Janet and I will break down the barriers that hold autistic teens and adults back from driving in our upcoming book Behind the Wheel with ASD. Janet did an excellent job of identifying these challenges in her blog post, “What are the Barriers to Driving with ASD?” Stay tuned as we continue to explore these specific challenges and provide insight into how to overcome them!