Teens with ASD: Driving

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The future depends on what we do in the present. - Mahatma Gandhi

Most teenagers know driving a car is a rite of passage and are anxious to get their license. Unfortunately, not all kids with autism or Asperger's are going to be able to operate a car safely. It can be difficult to explain to higher functioning kids that driving is not a right, it's a privilege and being behind the wheel of what amounts to a 3,000-pound killing machine is a very serious thing.

The law varies a little in some states but one thing is consistent - you must report that your child has an ASD to the Department of Motor Vehicles when applying for a license. It will not disqualify them for a license but you must report it or they can revoke the license. You must also notify the in-the-car test instructor before starting the test.

Car insurance rates cannot be affected by an ASD diagnosis but if their disability affects their safety record (more accidents or violations) then their insurance rates would go up, just like any driver without a disability.

Adults with ASD have said they find it beneficial to tape a paper to their driver's license that says "I have Asperger's and may not understand questions asked verbally" or something similar so that if they were pulled over, the police officer wouldn't assume they were under the influence or intentionally not following commands.

Remember that OVR can provide driving evaluations and pay for driving lessons if need be.

There are specialty driving instructors that teach people with ASD prep for the test and on the road driving but they are not common in the USA like they are in the UK. You can Google search “Autism driving instructor” and your area to find one.

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