Parenting an autistic child comes with a whole world of extra concerns that tend to pile themselves on top of the already nearly-insurmountable worries parents normally face. I was at a workshop recently, and when the topic of driving came up, every parent in the room either groaned or shuddered. The fear was palpable. If this sounds like you, don’t panic.
Let me introduce myself. I’m a professional driving instructor, living and working in the suburbs of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Over the past few years, I’ve specialized in training teens and young adults with diagnoses on the autism spectrum to drive safely.
When I began, it was just a matter of stepping up to a challenge to help a new student. Before being a driving instructor, I spent years working in traffic safety research, so I buried myself in the published literature, scouring over scientific journals and books about autism looking for information specifically about autism and driving. I found very little. I often told the parents of my students that we’re writing the book on autism and driving through a bit of trial and error.
Parents, I know what you’re feeling. I’ve had so many conversations with parents that have the same running questions:
- “Will my son/daughter really be able to drive?”
- “Do you really think it’s possible?”
- “How in the world will we get him/her through the driving test?”
- “Can he/she be trusted to drive alone?”
The students I’ve had so far have proved it’s absolutely possible. They’ve been driving by themselves for years without incidents – no crashes, no tickets. I can help your own teen gain that independence all kids crave, and that is so important to living an independent adult life.