Thursday, April 08, 2010

Clinic Notes: Autism and Driving

For most teenagers driver's ed and getting a driver's license is a rite of passage that they can't wait for. However, many kids with high functioning autism and Asperger's find the thought of driving stressful. I have had a number of kids on the spectrum in my clinic that simply had no interest in driving. Others found driver's ed very stressful. Some had no problem learning the necessary skills for driving, but once driver's ed was over they had no interest in taking the test to get their license. Sydney University in Australia has begun a specialized driving program for kids with Asperger's. They also report high anxiety levels because of the coordination of sensory and motor systems that driving involves. So far there are no reports on the success of their program. I am interested because in the kids that we are able to mainstream a lack of public transportation in the rural area where I practice is going to mean driving to a job.