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Old 07-22-2012, 01:18 PM   #1
clm10308
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How do you teach an Asp kid to drive?

Warning: long vent

My DD is 17. She has not been officially diagnosed as Aspergers but when she was in 3rd grade and diagnosed with ADHD we were told verbally by the psychologist that DD did meet the DSM qualifications as a person with Autism. At that time we did not peruse that lable because it was not really impacting her behavior or schooling.

The older she gets, the more I can see the Aspergers characteristics though. There is still no impact on her academics, but the social aspects are much more obvious now. She loves her very small school where she can gets lots of attention from the adults, but she has very little social interactions with peers. She is happy with the way things are so that is fine with me. She would much rather be "right" than make compromises to get along with the other kids. Plus she is socially immature and does not have much in common with the other kids.

Now we are dealing with learning to drive. In our state, drivers Ed must be taken in school but the 50 hours of driving practice must be done at home. She did great in the class and can quote you most everything the book said.

The problem we are having is with the driving practice. She has to do everything exactly the way the book said no matter what. I try to offer suggestions that would make it easier for her but that doesn't work. If I correct what she is doing in an alarmed voice (because I think we are going to get hit or run off the road) she shuts down completely and will not say a word.

I try to keep as positive as possible giving her lots of praise and complements, but any correction is an issue.

This morning, as she was crossing a busy road that she has done before several times, we almost got hit because she would not accelerate as she cross the road. Yes, I did raise my voice to tell her to go faster. She got mad because I would not listen to her explanation as to why she was right and the other car was wrong as I was watching this car about to Tbone us.

I can't seem to get the point across to her that it doesn't matter who was "right" if you are all dead.

So, any suggestions for working with her on this? We live in the middle of nowhere about 1 1/2 hrs from a driving school or I would pay for her to get her hours that way. My DH would have an even harder time driving with her because he is much harsher with her.

I have been thinking of having her evaluated to get the label for her, but that won't help with the driving.
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Old 07-22-2012, 01:35 PM   #2
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I really don't mean to come off rude, as an Aspie myself I am having a hard time learning how to drive but I did perfectly on the written test and I could learn things and all that. I have ADHD as well. Now, I don't want to sound rude but do you really think it's in your daughter's best interest to drive right now? I know you live probably in a place where you need to drive, but really driving can be difficult for someone with ADHD & ASD because there is so much to take in, and sticking to the book is probably what is keeping her rather comforted.

I am just starting to get my license at 23, yes... I am extremely late. I never understood why it is such a priority for a teenager to get their license, their brains aren't fully developed yet and getting behind a vehicle and controlling it sounds rather frightening to me. I am doing well, because I have a driving instructor, my Mom would only help exacerbate my meltdowns when I was behind the wheel where I just could not function because of the way she reacted to when I got nervous or wasn't certain what to do and would seem to panic, her angry or "alarmed" voice (alarmed voices and angry voices sound no different to me) would only make it much much worse.

It's hard to see things in "black and white", and there isn't really a way to get around that. at least when I was her age, at 17 I was just I couldn't do it. Now that I am older, I can kind of cope with some "grey" area if it makes sense and is seen as helpful, but what you probably shouldn't do is give her all these different ways of doing something while she is driving. If she keeps getting you into situations that are life threatening or could cause a danger to others maybe it is best for now that she does not drive. I am not trying to be rude, but as an Aspie myself it sounds like she is NOT ready to get behind the wheel of a car and that should be okay, it will come with time. Remember people with ASD's are more slow than others when it comes to doing things.
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Old 07-22-2012, 01:37 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AddictedtoDoleWhip View Post
I really don't mean to come off rude, as an Aspie myself I am having a hard time learning how to drive but I did perfectly on the written test and I could learn things and all that. I have ADHD as well. Now, I don't want to sound rude but do you really think it's in your daughter's best interest to drive right now? I know you live probably in a place where you need to drive, but really driving can be difficult for someone with ADHD & ASD because there is so much to take in, and sticking to the book is probably what is keeping her rather comforted.

I am just starting to get my license at 23, yes... I am extremely late. I never understood why it is such a priority for a teenager to get their license, their brains aren't fully developed yet and getting behind a vehicle and controlling it sounds rather frightening to me. I am doing well, because I have a driving instructor, my Mom would only help exacerbate my meltdowns when I was behind the wheel where I just could not function because of the way she reacted to when I got nervous or wasn't certain what to do and would seem to panic, her angry or "alarmed" voice (alarmed voices and angry voices sound no different to me) would only make it much much worse.

It's hard to see things in "black and white", and there isn't really a way to get around that. at least when I was her age, at 17 I was just I couldn't do it. Now that I am older, I can kind of cope with some "grey" area if it makes sense and is seen as helpful, but what you probably shouldn't do is give her all these different ways of doing something while she is driving. If she keeps getting you into situations that are life threatening or could cause a danger to others maybe it is best for now that she does not drive. I am not trying to be rude, but as an Aspie myself it sounds like she is NOT ready to get behind the wheel of a car and that should be okay, it will come with time. Remember people with ASD's are more slow than others when it comes to doing things.
Not rude at all.

One of the things I was thinking was that we just need to let it go, but I was worried that waiting would not make it any better.
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Old 07-22-2012, 01:47 PM   #4
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Not rude at all.

One of the things I was thinking was that we just need to let it go, but I was worried that waiting would not make it any better.
Maybe ask her if she wants to drive? I would also suggest maybe talking to her about the whole driving thing before you get behind the wheel with her and talk to her about it. She seems like she's comfortable with things that are black and white and driving isn't always black and white (as other drivers will happily forget the rules of the road and break them, which really upsets me at times but my driver instructor told me to let them get in trouble and get a ticket while I do not.)

Is there someone else she can drive with? If she does show interest in driving is there someone else, besides you and your DH that she can drive with that she may listen to? It's a shame that the closest driving school is 1.5 hours away, I have found I feel more at ease with my driving instructor because he is a driving teacher, and I know at 17 my theory was "if you are not considered a teacher or a driving teacher I will not listen to you because blah blah" kind of thing.

If you have to wait a few years, you know your daughter best my mom didn't like waiting for me to drive but she understood eventually that I could just not handle it and now that I am older she said she was super happy that I waited.

If you think that getting her labeled with AS then you should do it, maybe getting some extra help will be beneficial if she can talk to someone who may be able to help her cope with black/white things, and that being right always is not going to happen.
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Old 07-22-2012, 01:49 PM   #5
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I'm not there quite yet but soon enough and I'm looking forward to responses.

One thing I've told my DD14 is that age isn't the only requirement for her to learn how to drive (they can get permits at 15 1/2 here). I've told her very clearly that I have to feel confident that she is aware of her surroundings and not just hyperfocussing before I'll agree for her to beginning driving. She very much gets tunnel vision and we all know as experienced drives that you have to see everything going on around you.

I guess in the situation you're describing, you somehow have to get across the difference between the rules of the road and safe actions. Unfortunately, there are so many little situations that you can't think of until you've got a car barrelling towards you which is really scary. I know I've only got a year before I've got one begging to start learning and it scares me more than I know how to express.

Something I plan to tell my DD is that regardless of the rules she learned in class, if I tell her that certain actions are required of her when behind the wheel that if she doesn't comply then she won't be driving. That's one of my absolutes. It's a rule she has no choice but to follow if she wants to drive. If she argues, she'll lose driving privledges. Driving is so much more than what the books tell you.

I hope you get some good advice. I know I'll need it shortly just as much as you do right now.
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Old 07-22-2012, 05:14 PM   #6
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I have AS, so here's my thoughts. I got my license right on time (well, six months late, but that's because I was splitting time between parents in two different states). I was petrified to go around other, unpredictable things like other cars until my dad tricked me to going on the access roads, and I wasn't completely comfortable on the road for a couple years. But that would have happened whether I learned at 16 or 23.

I'd advocate three things:

One, I'd advocate enrolling her in a defensive driving course - and those exist online as well as in classrooms. She (properly, to some extent) doesn't see you as an expert on driving while she sees her book as the expert. Therefore, when you tell her something that contradicts what she's read, you're obviously wrong. If she's learning from someone who is an "expert," however, she's more likely to listen. Those courses also emphasize defensive driving through lovely, memorable, gory videos about all the ways other cars can kill you. That will make the point about being "right" not mattering better than any lecture ever could.

Is it feasible for you to hire whoever taught her driver's ed at school to do the "home" practice that she would see as more of an expert? Like a PP mentioned above, I had much, much different responses to my parents teaching me how to drive than I did someone else.

Second, try and re-set her concept of the "correct" responses in this case, or make sure that's something that's emphasized in the driving class. The "correct" response is made by evaluating the actions around you rather than taking just yourself into context. Does she like sports or music or something where you can draw a parallel to that (i.e., the correct pass might be up the field, but if your teammate isn't there, it's pretty worthless, or if everyone else is slowing down despite the tempo marking on the music, you have to follow them).

Finally, remember that all teenagers struggle with something when learning to drive, whether that's abject fear of being around other cars (my tic) to not understanding the dangers of too much speed. It is perfectly normal and developmentally appropriate for her to do things that you think will get her killed in the car, and it's perfectly normal and developmentally appropriate for her not to want to listen to one smidge of advice from you about it. Teenagers are wonderful, wonderful creatures that way.
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Old 07-22-2012, 05:26 PM   #7
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We just changed the law in my state so that children with disabiities have unitil the age of 21 to do drivers ed and can take it multiple times.

Find other "driving" instructional resources for her to read, and do the practical part on her schedule.

put extra instructional time in for drivers ed in her 504 or IEP and include it as part of her transition plan
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Old 07-22-2012, 11:13 PM   #8
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I don't have any label other than "quirky" and I have a lot of the same issues OP's daughter is having with driving...and I'm 26 and don't have a license. I think part of it is because I couldn't and still can't comfortably practice with people like my mother, any correction she thinks she's giving me makes me shut down, and it's ones that go against anything a driving instructor had taught me. I'm going to be on my 3rd set of driving lessons when I finally get the chutzpuh to sign up for them again.
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Old 07-23-2012, 12:11 AM   #9
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Thanks for the suggestions.

She and I had a talk this afternoon going over some of the stuff brought up here and some good information I found using Google.

We discussed the diffence between me being alarmed or scared vs angry. She seemed to understand.

We also talked about how I know that she will follow the "rules" for safe driving, but that not everyone else will.

We discussed waiting a bit, but decided than if we avoided driving now that would just push the issue off until later. So, she will contine to do driving practice, but she can choose where she drives.

Today she choose to drive to McDonalds for dinner (45 min away) and did a great job. It was getting dark so I drove home.

Some of the other suggestions that were brought up sound like they would work for others, but due to our location will not work for us.
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Old 07-23-2012, 12:17 AM   #10
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Can you find any place to drive that doesn't have a lot of traffic? (Possibly a housing developement that isn't very built up yet or someplace similar.)
That is what we did with our ds. There is an old air force base nearby that closed and now has a few businesses in it and miles of road. I would drive out there, then switch drivers and my ds would drive all over the place. We would pratice turns, parking, backing up on the road and occasionally he would encounter traffic. We kept this up until he was very comfortable with the car, then we slowly got him out on the road into traffic.
We went in stages, just adding small steps, like he just drove a few miles out on the road the first time we left the base, then a little bit further the next time. If he became uncomfortable, he would find a safe place to pull over and we would change drivers.
Being comfortable with the car was a huge factor for my ds.

I also suggest finding reading material on defensive driving. Make sure you both read it (and she knows you read it!) so she understands that you also "know" the rules!!
I did make it clear to my son that he had to obey me while he was driving, and if he started arguing, we needed to stop the driving practice and head home.

At 19 he's been driving for 3 years now and does very well, but he still dislikes driving in heavy traffic areas and can be slow to pull out into traffic (meaning he waits forever to pull out, waiting for a huge opening, not that he is a hazard by pulling out slowly).
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Old 07-23-2012, 12:59 AM   #11
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I'm an adult with AS, and at 16 when I got my license I was undiagnosed. I did get my licence about 5 months after my birthday, and it was after a lot of talks on learning to understand that the DPS book the driver school uses are great for the test to get my license, the book won't always apply to real life situations and I can't adhere to everything written inside that book if it meant risking my life or the life of someone else.

My parents talked with the instructors of my drivers school and explained my differences and I ended up receiving more driving time than a lot of the other kids. Most of the other kids drove about 10 times before getting their license, but I drove about 20-30. Just keep practicing, even if you can't go to a school. Do you have relatives or close friends that would help? I tend to listen to other relatives or close family friends I know over my parents, but that might be a thing all kids do

I had serious issues with being corrected while driving. I never shut down entirely but I would become incredibly hostile and anxious and would drive faster to get to the destination I needed to go to so I could just get the heck out of the car. Definitely not safe behavior on my part! I had my parents try telling me nicely repeatedly that I needed to accept criticism if I wanted to drive, and eventually they actually had a police officer talk to me and give me some tough love about driving safely. At the time, I did freeze up and not respond well to it and I did totally have a tantrum. But after several days of thinking on it, I calmed down and began to understand the safety issues the police officer talked to me about.

For the first 3 years (age 16-19) of driving, I was really only allowed to drive with my parent or another adult relative in the car. It was only after I proved I was able to understand that it's not about my being right and following the rulebook, but about being safe that my parents very reluctantly allowed me out on my own. Now I'm in my late 20s and have no issues related to driving. Sure, rush hour traffic scares me and stresses me out, but I avoid driving during those times. I don't drive on the freeway/highway unless I absolutely have to, and then I only do during times I know it won't be busy. Being a little older gives me more insight into what situations make me the most likely to snap and I avoid them at all possible cost.

Something that's been an issue for me, however, is the car itself. I received a new car for Christmas the year I was 16. That was almost 13 years ago and I am STILL driving the same car. I am used to this car, and no matter how old and terrible my car runs, I will not drive another one. I freak out and shut down if anyone tries to force me to drive something else. I'm going through some help right now in order to move on from my first car and get something newer and more reliable and safe. I'm not sure if maybe being consistent in the car that you use with your DD will help, but it certainly did for me. haha it became like a relationship. I named my car, I talked to him, I formed a strong attachment to him. We're a team and the more I drove in my car, the more confident I became and the more likely I was to react properly in a situation so he wouldn't become wrecked and taken away.
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Old 07-23-2012, 09:21 AM   #12
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I'm a grown aspie who got their liscense at 17. It was a very painful process learning how to drive, exacerbated by the fact that my parents attempted to make me learn on a stick shift, which was just beyond over-whelming. They ended up having to purchase a cheap automatic "beater" for me.

It probably would have been beneficial to all of us if someone outside the family had taught me, although at the time I was not really up to talking to people I didn't know.

At 33, my current limitations include the fact that I can only drive my own car, I have even refused to drive my DH's car, which is the same make and model as mine, but 5 years newer.

Additionally, I cannot drive anywhere that I have not seen the drive to. Probably confusing, as an example, my friend was getting married at a location that I had never seen, and my DH was unable to attend with me, so a few weekends prior to the event, he drove us to that location. Once I have seen the route I can generally handle it. We have a GPS but this doesn't resolve the issue.

I'm also a very angry driver because of all the rule-breakers out there! Mostly I find that if I play some music that I enjoy it helps me stay calm and engages the part of my brain that otherwise wants to notice what everyone else on the road is doing and get irate about it.

So, I suppose I don't have any real advice but good luck and it is possible!
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Old 08-01-2012, 12:49 AM   #13
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My DS with Asperger's just turned 17 this month. He's not going to be driving anytime soon. We just don't think he has the maturity or the judgement skills, especially when he tells me to honk at people when it's not warranted, or pass a traffic jam on the shoulder. He doesn't get why it's not OK. He's made a few self-realizations recently, and he's slowly maturing in a lot of ways. Perhaps in a few years he'll be ready to drive. For now, I'll be his taxi.
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Old 08-01-2012, 01:30 AM   #14
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Luv - you are obviously the best judge of when your child is ready to drive, and I have no idea if he is or not. But neither of what you mentioned would be particularly concerning to me because my absolutely normal teenage brother said the same things. Teenagers in general (and teenage boys in particular) don't have the same view of acceptable risk that adults do, and they don't get why it's not okay until they're put in the position where they start to get first-hand experience with those things that they come around.

Teenagers are strange, odd little creatures who have any number of infuriating qualities, and that goes for the most statistically average kid in the world along with those on the spectrum. It's a very difficult job teasing out what is normal teenage behavior (lashing out at parents when they're trying to help, taking "unacceptable" risks or obsessing over a new love, etc.) from something that is truly a problem.
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Old 08-01-2012, 10:41 PM   #15
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Perhaps this sounds odd, but I work in special education New York State and I work with high school students. I don't know where you live, but does your state and/or school district have access to vocational training for people with disabilities? The goal of many of those programs is so someone can go to work and for many people with a disability (including those received on-the-job) is to be able to work and make a living, that includes learning to drive. My state has VESID (or whatever it's new name is) which deals with vocational issues and they have met with some of my students to evaluate them regarding needed job skills, including driving. They can arrange for driving instruction to meet a person with a disability's needs. Most of the time it is free or low cost. It may be worth looking into for you.
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