Teenagers with Autism: The Driving Dilemna

Introduction

Depending upon where you live in the United States, parents’ decisions to let their child with HFASD (High Functioning Autism Spectrum Disorder) drive could rest solely on them. If you are lucky enough to live in a state such as Pennsylvania, then all teens applying for a driver’s permit must have a physician sign off on their potential driving abilities.  And if you live in Michigan, Montana or Illinois (for example), then all teens also need proof of having a Graduated Driving License certificate. That teens are impulsive, at times irrational, and often unpredictable is common knowledge.  These characteristics are often even more pronounced in HFASD children. In addition, a child with HFASD often has issues with communication, motor regulation, and social skills, all of which are factors that can impact driving skills.  Very few studies have been done on these teens to access their abilities and the potential issues regarding their safety and the safety of others on the road. Written by Susan N. Schriber Orloff, OTR/L (and reprinted with permission from the Special Education Advisor), the focus of this issue of NASET’s Autism Spectrum Disorder Series is to address the issues, concerns and dilemmas surrounding teenagers with autism and driving.

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