Home > Uncategorized > A Word from Family Services: Autism and Driving

A Word from Family Services: Autism and Driving

On Monday, January 9th, the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) Center for Child Injury Prevention Studies announced a new study focused on how teens with high-functioning autism approach learning to drive. According to the study which surveyed almost 300 parents, two-thirds of teenagers with a high-functioning autism of legal driving age in their state are currently driving or plan to drive.

The CHOP study represents exciting news for the autism world! Not too long ago, many families were given little to no hope that their children would develop the skills that are necessary to drive. This is exciting news for the autism community, as an individual’s ability to drive can play a big role in establishing independence and increasing opportunities for participation in the community.

At the same time, there are a number of critical precautions that must be taken to ensure the safety of individuals with autism and the rest of the community when learning to drive. So while we embrace this exciting opportunity, we know that driving may not be an option for all living with autism.

In order to help our community explore the possibility of driving, Autism Speaks awarded a Family Services Community Grant to Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in 2011 for project called DriveAdvise. This project involves the development of a tool kit and an educational video that will help families decide whether an individual with ASD might consider driving. The video will interview individuals, family members, service providers and driving instructors and will provide us with an in-depth look into the factors that contribute to the potential and the skills necessary to help qualified drivers with high functioning autism get behind the wheel. Read more about the grant here.

Autism Speaks will provide the tool kit and video on our website as soon as this exciting project is completed.

by Lisa Goring, Autism Speaks Vice President, Family Services.

  1. January 13, 2012 at 6:26 am

    This is great. So needed!

  2. Cecilia Feeley
    January 13, 2012 at 10:52 am

    Very excited to see this work being done. There is currently UVA research study will add to the knowledge base. There is such a void in the research regarding driving and autism. There is a cute documentary from the BBC-3 titled “Autism Driving School” that is about students and a driving instructor with Autism.

    We really need some in-vehicle studies understanding eye movement and reaction time to fully understand driving with autism. When a team from University of Iowa proposed this study a few years ago the rejection was based on the premise that people with autism did not drive. Glad this has been proven wrong. In many parts of the country individuals with ASD will have no choice but to drive if they want to participate in the community.

    We also need to concentrate on the segments of our population that will never have the capability to operate a moving vehicle.

  3. Cecilia Feeley
    January 13, 2012 at 10:53 am

    Sorry – typo. s/b There is currently a UVA research study that will add to the knowledge base.

  4. January 16, 2012 at 5:56 am

    I hope that this will prove to be an effective learning tool for Autistic people and not used as a way to deny driving privileges withut proper cause. What if a teen uses the simulator and is deemed not fit for driving a car, but at a later point in life becomes able to drive a car? I hope that the results of the simulator test would not be linked to a person’s identity permanently in that fashion. We don’t need any more discrimination.

  5. January 17, 2012 at 5:56 am

    I agree with Mildred. Children with Autism go through regular behavioural changes and also acquire skills with time. Therefore, it would be unfair to deny them a second chance simply because they weren’t good enough the first time.

  6. February 10, 2012 at 11:53 am

    Great share! Thanks!

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