Preparing the Autistic Driver for the Road: A Look at Motor Skills

Aspergers101 asks the experts about driving safely with Autism. In this blog we focus especially on preparing to drive with motor skill challenges.

Dr. Berenice de la Cruz, Training and Research Director at the Autism Community Network, offers a great overview into the differences of the Autistic brain and how those differences affect the skills it takes to drive.


Dr. Berenice de la Cruz/Training and Research Director/Autism Community Network

There are three structural differences in the Autistic brain. These differences will most likely affect:

  1. motor skills
  2. communication (social) skills
  3. sensory processing

Both fine and gross motor skills are typical challenges for many diagnosed with High Functioning Autism or Asperger’s Syndrome. implicit_learning_hero

So when it comes to learning to drive, or at least considering if driving may be an option, it is imperative to overcome the challenges that can impede safe driving.

Dr. Temple Grandin asserts that if she did not have the ability to drive she would never have been able to visit all of the feed/stock yards to do her prep work for her cattle handling designs. When learning to drive motor skills can be a challenge, especially with multi-tasking, but not impossible to overcome.

Dr. Grandin’s advice is to practice, a lot:

For Drivers with ASD A Visual Checklist for Complete Vehicle Maintenance

The importance of understanding how to maintain your car

Drivers with ASD, especially those who have little experience, often neglect to learn about vehicle maintenance. They do not receive car maintenance information in driver’s education courses and may feel persuaded to initially think that it does not matter.

Car Speedometer Symbols

Unfortunately, when lights come on in their cars or if their cars unexpectedly die on them, they may become confused as to how to deal with such situations. Parents must educate their driving children, especially those with Aspergers, about the various situations that could arise when transportation fails. These issues include schedule changes and a dependency on alternative transportation.

Initiatives to Help Texas Drivers with Communication Challenges

April Press Release

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FOR IMMEDIATE DISTRIBUTION PRESS RELEASE
April 25, 2016 Media and Communications Office

Initiatives to Help Texas Drivers with Communication Challenges

AUSTIN – The Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS), along with the Texas Governor’s Committee on People with Disabilities and Aspergers101, today announced initiatives designed to assist Texans who have communication impairments. In an effort to facilitate effective communication, DPS first reminded Texans of the communication impediment option that drivers may select to be reflected on their driver licenses/ID cards.

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(L to R) Mr. Joe Peters/Asst Director Texas DPS Driver License Division, Major Jason Hester/Texas DPS Education, Training Division, Jennifer Allen/CEO Aspergers101, Samuel Allen/Aspergers101 and speaking, Mr. Ron Lucey/Executive Director Texas Governors Committee on People with Disabilities.

DPS also announced that it has recently coordinated with Aspergers101 to allow them to provide training and education to DPS officers about autism spectrum disorders, other disabilities and potential communications challenges associated with those disorders. In addition, the department announced that it is working with Aspergers101 to develop a Driving With Autism camp that will help increase driver confidence and practical skills.

“At DPS, our mission is to serve and protect the people of Texas,” said DPS Assistant Director for the Driver License Division Joe Peters. “This optional notice on the driver license and ID card puts important information in the hands of our law enforcement officers, which will help them better serve and protect individuals with a communication impediment.”