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Driving a Car When You Have Autism

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When you turn 16, what’s one of the first things that comes to mind? Driving. Most people in today’s times want to be able to have a driver’s license and a car to drive. They don’t want to rely on people to drive them everywhere they go. It’s also very hard to not have a car. It’s not impossible to live your life without a driver’s license, but it’s harder for us  compared to people of other generations. There are some people who have physical or intellectual disabilities that make it impossible to drive. However, as a man with autism, I wanted and got a driver’s license.

The first thing I had to do to get my license was pass a permit test. Individuals with autism may have trouble preparing for that. My recommendation is to try to find out the most common questions that may be on it. Study signs and other traffic rules. I would also take practice tests to prepare if they are available in your state. Maybe try finding someone to help you prepare, like a relative or friend. I failed the first time despite studying really hard. But I got as many tries I needed until I passed, and I only needed two.

Learning to drive wasn’t a huge struggle for me. I remember my family members taking me on drives to teach me. Always let the people you can trust teach you to drive. If it can’t be a family member or friend, try to get driving lessons. I struggled with a couple of things, but not many. I had trouble with merging on interstates and highways. I almost got into an accident once learning that. However, once I kept doing it, I was fine. I was grateful to have my stepdad teach me how to parallel park as that was a requirement in my state’s road test. I learned and did it perfectly — I passed my road test on the first try!

I was so excited to be getting my driver’s license that day. When I did the road test, I listened to what the instructor said. I did the speed limit, used every turn signal and followed all other traffic laws. I stayed calm the whole time as well because you need to do that when driving a car. An accident can happen if you’re not calm on the road. Follow all the driving laws to avoid pullovers and accidents. Your license can get suspended if you have lots of those.

When it comes to bad weather, I drive slower whether it’s rain or snow. I give myself extra time if I have to be somewhere at a certain time and the weather is bad. If something goes wrong while driving like a breakdown, flat tire etc. I don’t panic. I call an auto service that can come out and help me fix any problem. I’m very good about going to get my car inspected, oil changed, put gas in etc. I make sure I have money for that stuff because it always has to be done. Some individuals with autism may struggle with that, but it can be worked on. I pay all my car payments and have my own car insurance.

If you’re in an accident, follow procedures properly, and call 911 no matter what. Stay calm with the people involved with the accident. If you’re pulled over by the police, try to stay calm. Listen to what the officer tells you. Don’t get your license and registration out until the officer says to. If you don’t agree with the officer giving you a ticket for a violation, take it to court — don’t try to argue with them at the scene. Driving is a privilege, not a right. I feel grateful I could get a driver’s license as someone with autism.

Getty image by Bowie15.

Originally published: September 26, 2018
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