Driving with Asperger’s.

Asperger’s is a condition diagnosed within the autism spectrum and is increasing in prevalence within the community. Asperger’s can often be misunderstood; individuals with Asperger’s have a wide range of symptoms although they share many similar symptoms. The main areas of concern are impaired communication, difficulties with social interaction, restricted and/or repetitive interests or behaviors and often sensory sensitivities.

For a person with Asperger’s driving is a complex, multi task that requires a lot of focus and concentration. Where a person that does not have Asperger’s may cope with multi tasking and are often referred to as multi channeled, a person with Asperger’s finds it difficult to cope with this wide range of tasks and sensory overload.

Once a diagnosis has been confirmed there are many things that can be introduced to help these people learn to drive and to develop management strategies for driving. Areas that need to be developed and introduced are problem solving skills, multi tasking and being able to read the multitude of social cues that we take for granted when driving. For example a driver may flash their high beam at another driver, this could mean a few things to a driver: police ahead, an accident ahead or “please turn your high beams off your blinding me!!”. To a driver with Aspergers it would be difficult to read these cues and they may not realize what the other driver is trying to say to them.

It is important if you are taking lessons to learn how to drive, let the instructor know you have Asperger’s. A trained instructor can incorporate teaching skills to help make the learning process easier and more fun.

Some simple things parents can do to help the training process are:

* Have an exercise book to communicate with your instructor. Problems or issues can be easily and quickly resolved.

* Collect resources, brochures and online support from car dealers, RMS or car magazines, go through them with the driver and teach them all aspects of driving a car.

* Start driving in quiet areas and build up over time, it may take a little longer to build up the skills but a driver with Asperger’s if taught patiently and correctly will follow all the safety rules and road rules consistently.

* Predicting and sequencing skills are often difficult for drivers with Asperger’s and when drivers around them become unpredictable it becomes difficult to ‘read’ the other driver.  Sitting down with road maps and discussing issues within that area help these drivers learn predicting skills.

* Sitting at the side of the road watching traffic and discussing what’s about to happen next , can help them understand the unpredictable nature of drivers and how they can read the cues or body language of other drivers.

People living with Asperger’s are highly intelligent individuals that require a tailor made training plan to help them achieve their goal of being an independent, safe driver.

For more information on Asperger’s see the following web pages.

http://www.tonyattwood.com.au/index.php/about-aspergers/what-is-aspergers

http://www.asperger.asn.au/

http://www.autismspectrum.org.au/

http://aaanetwork.com.au/

For information on driver training contact us at Highlands Drive Safe , www.highlandsdrivesafe.com