Learning to drive with A.S.D.
Having an Autistic Spectrum Disorder (A.S.D.), including Asperger's Syndrome, does not automatically mean you can not learn to drive, or hold a driving licence. However, it is a condition that you may need to tell the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (D.V.L.A.) about. Telling D.V.L.A. will depend on whether your condition affects your ability to drive safely. It is a good idea to talk with your GP about your intention to learn to drive before you apply for your provisional licence. Your GP will have the latest guidelines from the D.V.L.A. for people with disabilities who want to learn to drive and will be able to advise you.
For more information about this visit The Autistic Spectrum Disorder (A.S.D.) and driving information page at DirectGov.
There are also medical rules that apply to Asperger's syndrome and drivingas well. Make sure you know if you need to tell the D.V.L.A. or you may find your licence is suspended or revoked.
After you have applied for, and received, your provisional driving licence you will be keen to start driving lessons so you can pass your test and become more independant. However, it is worth bearing in mind that you could need a lot of lessons to pass your test. Driving is a life skill, and how many lessons a person needs can vary. Some people can pass their test in just six lessons, others need hundreds of lessons before they are up to test standard. Having A.S.D. or Asperer's Syndrome does not mean you will need more lessons than anyone else. It all depends on how quickly you learn this new skill, and this can depend on how well your driving instructor understands you and your personal difficulties.
At SK Driving School we take our time to get to know you and how your difficulties affect your daily life. We then structure our lessons to be of the most benefit to you as an individual. We allow you time to get things right and won't overload you. If you need a break we are happy to let you have one, and your instructor will sometimes ask if you need a break if he feels you are getting overwhelmed during your lessons.
We teach you to drive at a pace you can handle, and if you feel you can not continue your lesson at any time your instructor will drive you back home safely.
A.S.D. problems that may affect you learning to drive:
Weak short term and working memory (holding on to and applying information).
Auditory processing: taking on board, and understanding, what is being said quickly.
Difficulty with focusing, easily distracted.
Difficulty identifying left from right.
Visual distraction, visual memory issues.
Slower processing speed in the brain.
Sequencing problems: getting information in the right order.
Understanding the complexities of other road users and the 'body language' of traffic.
Accepting that not all drivers follow the rules of the road exactly.
If you find a manual car too difficult try to learn in an automatic car. Less co-ordination is needed and there are less things to think about.
When booking your theory test, ask for extra time to complete the written section if you think you need it.
Mark the right side of the steering wheel with a sticker to help you to remember which side is right and which is left.
Plan and prepare your journey as much as possible before you set out. Write down the directions and clip them to the dashboard.
If you have map reading problems, reverse maps can help and/or satellite navigation systems.
Take frequent breaks if you find concentration difficult.