Tip: Practicing Driving Skills

In some parts of the country, the public transportation system is underdeveloped, and the parents want their kids to learn to drive, so they can be independent. Driving is difficult and scary to people on the autism spectrum because of their tendency to become lost in thought and their lack of attention to their surroundings.

However, if the parents insist, and the young person is agreeing to learn, try to find an instructor who specializes in driver’s education for handicapped persons. That person will have experience and will be able to evaluate the progress of your grandchild. Despite disabilities, your grandchild still has to become a safe driver, or they will be unable to get a license and keep it.

The grandparents can help by finding places to practice that are practically deserted, like parking lots on Sunday morning, or streets in industrial complexes on the weekends. After your grandchild has a learner’s permit, you can take them to an empty parking lot. Let them drive in the parking lot and practice parking straight between the lines. Have them practice accelerating and then slamming on the brakes, to get the feel of the seatbelt when it grabs the body. You can practice turning and looking in both directions before a turn is executed. It’s all about establishing hand eye coordination and automatic reactions. If your grandchild does not develop the automatic skills necessary, driving will be so stressful and frightening, that they won’t want to continue.