When teenagers get to the age when they can start learning to drive, most of them will be keen to get started straight away. For people with autism, it is not always as straightforward as applying for a provisional licence and booking lessons.
Obviously, autism is a spectrum disorder, so there is no black and white answer as to whether someone diagnosed with ASD will be allowed to drive. It would depend on the individual case.
Some people will struggle with some of the skills required for driving, for example, if they have a history of poor motor controls or difficulties with multi-tasking. Another issue that could affect whether your granted a licence is if you have a history of epilepsy. The best place to start off is to talk to your doctor about wanting to learn to drive. They will be able to discuss the DVLA guidelines with you and talk through the steps of applying for a licence.
When you apply for a licence, the standard application form asks for you to disclose any disabilities. Failing to include the information can result in a fine, so you should never omit a diagnosis of any disability or medical condition. What will usually happen is that the driving agency will review your application and a medical advisor will assess whether it can be approved. They will usually contact your doctor (with your permission) and may ask you to attend an assessment.
The decision will be judged on an individual case basis and if you are granted a provisional licence you will be able to book lessons as soon as your licence comes into effect. Organisations such as The National Autistic Society can help you to find specialised driving instructors with experience of teaching students with autism, if you would prefer.
Once you have all of the paperwork in place, you can get going. A large part of passing your driving test is the theory test and people commonly make the mistake of not putting much effort into revising for the test. If you don’t pass then you have to pay to re-take the test again, so it makes sense to prepare as well as you can for it.
Years ago, revising for your theory test consisted of reading page after page of text from the Highway Code but it is much more fun these days. Now you can practice the questions using interactive, online tests and you will know from your scores whether you are ready to take your theory test or not. There is no point taking your theory test before you are ready for it as you will only be wasting your money. You can find some great resources such as TopTests.co.uk to help you to prepare.
Learning to drive can be a really exciting time and you can gain loads of independence once you have attained your full licence. If you want to find out more information about driving with autism, speak to your doctor or visit the National Autistic Society’s website.