The experience of learning to drive for people on the autism spectrum

Published June 2021


Gaining a driver’s license can be difficult for student drivers on the autism spectrum, yet little is known about their experiences of learning to drive. In this qualitative study, focus groups and individual interviews were employed to ascertain the perceptions of three participant groups, including autistic individuals, parents of autistic individuals, and driving instructors with experience teaching autistic individuals to drive. Participants in each group were asked to discuss their feelings, concerns, and barriers, encountered while learning to drive, along with the driving behaviours, challenges, and strategies used when supporting autistic individuals to learn to drive. Grounded theory analysis was used to shed light on the experience of learning to drive for autistic individuals.

Five themes emerged supporting the core construct that targeted support ameliorates intrinsic driving complexities, generating success: (a) challenges that increase the complexity of learning to drive, (b) external challenges to overcome, (c) concerns about the reality of driving, (d) the need for a specialised model of training, and (e) success is possible. These findings highlight the importance of developing an autism-specific driving training intervention designed for autistic individuals, their families, and driving instructors.
Vindin, P., Wilson. N.J., Lee, H. & Cordier, R. (2021). The experience of learning to drive for people with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Focus on Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities, early online. doi: 10.1177/10883576211023312

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