Autism Spectrum

Launchpad

leaving school and leading your own life

Learning to drive

stories for parents

 

Harry’s road to driving

Deciding whether or not to encourage Harry to pursue a driver’s licence was really difficult. On the one hand, driving a car is a bit of a rite of passage and all of his friends would be doing it – it opens up a lot of possibilities in terms of jobs and general independence.

 

However, on the other hand driving a car is a huge responsibility and I could be putting his life or others’ lives in danger if I pushed him towards something that was just a bridge too far.

 

I decided fairly early on that it was too big a call for me to make and that I would seek out as much objective advice as I could. Harry disclosed his diagnosis when he applied for his Learner’s Licence and was then given a form that his GP had to complete as to her opinion on his competency in this area.

 

Harry’s GP agreed with me when I said that I felt unsure about Harry’s capacity for driving. She referred Harry for a specialist driving assessment which we obtained through the Royal Rehabilitation Hospital in Ryde.

 Harry L plates 2

 

This was a very comprehensive assessment. Harry was put through pen and paper tests as well as computer based tests for visual scanning and reaction times. He also went for his first lesson ever with a specially trained occupational therapist and a driving instructor. I held my breath – as this was the first time Harry had been in charge of any kind of moving carriage, aside from a scooter when he was about 12.

 

The verdict was that Harry most likely had the necessary skills but that he would benefit from ten lessons from the driving instructor at the hospital. This would also be a chance for the instructor to be more confident regarding his opinion that Harry would be able to be taught to drive.

 

Harry had those ten lessons and did well – picking up skills at a much slower rate than others his age I’m sure, but picking up skills nonetheless.

 

He continued to have fortnightly professional lessons – we treated his lessons as part of his weekly routine, focusing on skill building rather than it being about getting a licence in any particular period of time. Harry is now 19, has completed his 120 hours and is doing a final set of lessons in preparation for his driving test in the not too distant future.

 

I think he will get there but I also think he will, at least for the foreseeable future, prefer to use public transport rather than drive in many instances. I think driving might be something he will do on weekends, maybe to see friends and always in the local area where he is comfortable.

 

Whatever he chooses is ok – he has achieved something that many would not have predicted for him and his mum is very proud!

Vicki G