Learning to drive will require persistence and the acquisition of several new skills, such as quick judgment capabilities, multi-tasking, flexibility to changes (especially during construction), and non-verbal communication with other drivers. People on the autism spectrum may find driving difficult, due to issues with anxiety, visual-spatial discernment, reaction time, and more. But, while the task of becoming an experienced driver may seem like a daunting one, there are some things you can do to ensure that you become the seasoned driver you aspire to be.
Happily, once you start driving, you may even find that you have certain skills which bode well for your driving skills, such as attention to detail and strict adherence to safety laws.
Only about one-third of people on the autism spectrum who don’t have an intellectual disability get their driver’s licenses before the age of 21. Not every person with ASD wants to drive or is capable of driving, but many do and are. If you fall in with this group, don’t let your anxiety about learning to drive get the best of you. Instead, take a look at the tips below and see what you can do about making the experience a little easier on yourself.
10. Practice in the car (and everywhere else).
One of the most important things you can do when learning to drive is practice! Lots of time behind the wheel will get you there, but there are other ways you can practice driving too. Read up on driving rules and tips in your spare time, or watch someone else drive and analyze their actions. Practice your planning and visual-spatial awareness skills by riding a bike or mowing the lawn. You can even just pretend to drive (added benefit: you can do this anywhere you like!) and talk yourself through imaginary situations and what you would do. Out-of-car practice can help you feel more confident for when it’s time to practice in the car.
9. Take a driver’s training course.
Once you’ve got some reading and out-of-car practice under your belt to boost your confidence, enroll in a driver’s training course to get the scoop from the experts. Your parents have been driving for years and have plenty of experience, but people forget little things over the decades. They may not know all the rules of the road by heart, or they may just not know how to give you the proper tools to learn to drive. Whatever the case, you definitely stand a chance to benefit from an instructor’s expert guidance.
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Elizabeth Nelson is a wordsmith, an alumna of Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, a four-leaf-clover finder, and a grammar connoisseur. She has lived in west Michigan since age four but loves to travel to new (and old) places. In her free time, she. . . wait, what’s free time?