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A Word from Family Services: Autism and Driving

January 12, 2012 6 comments

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.

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