Sunday, 2 September 2012

Having Asperger's and learning to drive

I am continuing my series of blogs about living with Asperger's, by now writing about how having Asperger's affected learning to drive for me.

In 1996 I started driving lessons because I had two v young nephews whom I wanted to see often, and my brother lived in Kent. My first instructor I have to say was rubbish. He was meant to go through with me a book on road signs in each lesson but he didn't. Needless to say, I failed a mock test by going up a road with a no entrance sign on (didn't know what it meant then). It was during one lesson with this instructor that my Asperger's, which I didn't know I had at the time, kicked in. One of the things I was asked at my Asperger's assessment was ' Am I easily distracted?' The answer is yes. Esp with my own thoughts. And this is what happened one lesson. I was driving, and for one moment I thought of something and my mind was taken off driving, and what happened? I nearly crashed into a railing on a corner of a pavement. Thankfully the instructor managed to take control and saved us crashing completely. He had a go at me for that. I was a bit shaken.  I didn't have that instructor long,  He was sacked after the failed mock test.
   I had a second driver who did show me the book and got me improving on my driving. When he felt he had taught me enough, I had a third instructor.

I passed my test on the fourth attempt. The first one I failed because I was using a car that had been adapted for disabled people and I accidentally had flicked the disabled signal.  I didn't know what the noise was, neither did the teacher. So it was a fail. I can't remember why I failed the second one, but the third one I know I failed at my reverse parking up a hill. I hit the curb, and didn't check the wing mirror to see why I couldn't move any more. I learnt from that mistake, and when I had this again at the fourth go, I remembered what to do and I passed. Was I happy?  Very. I have now been driving my car (the same one all these years) for 14 years now and am proud to do so, esp knowing what I have now.

There was a time earlier this year that I made myself very aware of driving with Asperger's, and I think I made a few slight mistakes whilst driving. I feel I am more aware of what I am doing and am more careful than before.

So, my motto from this to anyone who has autism and wants to learn to drive is - if you are easily distracted, try not to be and focus on what you are doing at the time and nothing else.

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