To drive or not to drive

For Americans, learning to drive is a teenage right of passage. That goes for many teenagers with autism, too. An article in Disability Scoop points out that even though many people with autism struggle with motor skills and coordination, and some also have difficulty in situations that lack predictability, none of the 50 states restricts driving privileges for people who have autism.

The article goes on to describe a driving simulator that may help teenagers with autism take on the challenges of handling a car. From the article:

Using a $100,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Defense, researchers at the University of Virginia plan to study 20 teenagers with high functioning autism — half of whom will be trained in a driving simulator and half of whom will be taught to drive in a more typical fashion through driver’s education or by their parents.

“We hope that by controlling the complexities of driving for these teens on the simulator, and by replaying mistakes to provide a safe environment for practice, we can build skills in teen drivers with Asperger’s and high-functioning autism,” said Daniel Cox, a professor of behavioral medicine who is working on the study.

Researchers are hoping the simulator will also help determine which of the teenagers with autism are good candidates to become independent drivers — and which ones are not.


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  1. Denise Morgan Says:

    This is a tough one! Although we want our kids to move forward and be independent as possible, we also want safety. These kids see the world in such a different way than we do, so putting them in a dangerous situation like driving an automobile where you have to make split decisions seems so careless. I don’t even want to think about it, but I know I will someday!