How Google Street View Helped My Driving as Person on the Autism Spectrum

Learning to drive as someone on the autism spectrum was difficult enough. It took me years of practicing in familiar places before I could comfortably drive around my local area.

But then I wanted to be able to go further. People weren’t always around to be able to show me how to get to new places. I don’t remember street names very well, and GPS is extremely distracting to me. It’s hard to listen to the voice and process what it’s telling me to do. So I had to find a different way to expand my driving routes.

This is where Google comes in. More specifically, Google Street View. Some people may have used it as a way to virtually explore their favorite landmarks. But I used it to become more independent as a person on the spectrum.

Any time I wanted to go to a new place, I would pull it up on Google Maps. I’d look to see the furthest point on the map that I knew I could drive to. And then, I had to trust Street View to lead me to my destination. I’d slowly and virtually “drive” down the street, picking out my visual landmarks to help me know when I would turn or how far I was going. I could turn it nearly 360 degrees to see both sides of the street or what I had passed. I could even zoom in on some signs to read what they said.

All of this was so helpful for me in expanding my driving range. I’ve used Google Street View to get to sensory friendly movies, out of the county and even just out of the state!

I may be a bit limited by things like construction zones or large, multi-lane highways. But now I know how to get around without having to rely on another person to show me the way. And that kind of independence is the best thing that Google could give me.

What’s a part of your condition you live with every day that others might not see? Explain what that experience feels like. Check out our Submit a Story page for more about our submission guidelines.

Lead photo source: Thinkstock Images

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