A lot of people with Autism don't drive cars, why is that?

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WantToHaveALife
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24 Jun 2024, 9:23 am

As in many of the threads i started here, it annoys or irritates me on how there is a word limit on what you can put in the "subject", when asking a question.

Anyway, my question, topic of discussion is, i've noticed over the years, it seems that a large portion of people with Autism/Aspergers, on the spectrum, don't drive, don't have cars, why is that usually the case? At least 3 or 4 people on the autism spectrum that i know, that live close by me, don't have cars, a drivers license. Another guy, who lives in Chicago, he has autism, he and 4 of his guy friends, who also have autism, don't have a car or drivers license either.

Yes its very possible i have not spoken to or interacted with many people to base this claim or study, but its just a speculative guess of mine, it seems that a large portion of people with autism don't have cars or a drivers license, they just don't drive.

What are common reasons why a lot of people with autism don't have a car or don't have drivers licenses, don't drive?

That has never been the case for me, i've had my drivers license since i was 18.

Overall, just wondering, what are common health reasons associated with autism that prevent them from driving a car?



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24 Jun 2024, 9:29 am

Dyspraxia, NVLD, or any particular cognitive profiles that struggles with either body movements or visual spatial processing or both.

Adding executive function issues that are more particular in autism might be an issue too -- too many road stimuli, too many controls, too fast reaction time needed, too many to consider and watch out for while driving, etc.

Anything else is common comorbidies; intellectual disabilities, unmanageable ADHD, too much anxiety to try or perform...
Maybe unmanaged and untreated learning disabilities.

And then there's epilepsy/seizures, which disqualifies someone from driving.
Maybe particular medications just won't allow someone to drive.



I don't have those issues nor have that particular cognitive profile.

Reason why I don't drive is that I don't own a car and I'm still never tested if I'm able or not.


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Last edited by Edna3362 on 24 Jun 2024, 9:43 am, edited 1 time in total.

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24 Jun 2024, 9:41 am

I second what Edna said--those reasonings make a lot of sense.

I got my license at 15 years old (I live in a farming state that allows you to go to driving school at 14.5, and get your driver's license at 15). I went undiagnosed with inattentive ADHD/ASD, and I remember driving to be incredibly overwhelming for the first few YEARS of having my license. I have had quite a few meltdowns in my car, and some serious navigation/direction issues. Even with Google Maps, I would make wrong turns, and feel incredibly overwhelmed/anxious with managing so many different things on top of trying to reroute my drive.

I've been driving now for almost 10 years and only in the last few years have I really gotten navigation in my area down. I still make wrong turns, and have to use Google Maps frequently. I have also learned some better coping skills when I am overwhelmed in my car, and am now suuuper comfy with driving my newer car. Driving can be tough! I can't imagine doing it if my coordination/depth perception/ADHD/anxiety was worse. ʅʕ•ᴥ•ʔʃ


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24 Jun 2024, 9:58 am

I didn't get my license until I was twenty-four.
My driving has improved a great deal over the past few years.



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24 Jun 2024, 11:38 am

Cars have frightened me since I was a small child. Back then I used to think if I didn't hold my mother's hand when crossing the street, the drivers would deliberately try to run me over.

Cars often look like they're much closer to me than they really are and drivers just do not see me, just walking when there are a lot of cars around can be an ordeal.

People seem to think they're invincible when they're driving, and so are other people. Road rage, distracted driving. One act of carelessness, and you're roadkill. Car crashes happen all the time. They've gotten worse than ever because of 9/11 and covid.

I hate that Canada is so dependent on cars because everything is so far apart and the public transit is abysmal.



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24 Jun 2024, 11:40 am

More people with autism need to try autocross, it's great for building confidence.


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WantToHaveALife
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24 Jun 2024, 12:34 pm

yeah a lot of these people that i've noticed over the years, are near their 30s, or in their 30s, 40s, and older and still have never had a car or drivers license.



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24 Jun 2024, 1:19 pm

My first thought is that a lot of autistic people are unemployed / underemployed and can't afford cars, insurance, petrol, etc. That's true of all people NT included but if they aren't working they don't have anywhere to go with a car anyway.

Then there's all the things people have already mentioned like ADHD and spatial awareness.

I got my licence in the 80s at almost 18. I'm ADHD but I didn't know at the time, so at least I didn't have the mindset that it might be dangerous. 40 years later I've had only one accident which was the result of poor road sign visibility in a construction zone. My kids are autistic and they have their licence but there's no way on earth they could afford to own a car. My son doesn't even like driving. They both abstain a lot because they use CBD. My daughter also has Epilepsy but it only affects her stomach so they said she's OK to drive.


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WantToHaveALife
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24 Jun 2024, 1:33 pm

IsabellaLinton wrote:
My first thought is that a lot of autistic people are unemployed / underemployed and can't afford cars, insurance, petrol, etc. That's true of all people NT included but if they aren't working they don't have anywhere to go with a car anyway.

Then there's all the things people have already mentioned like ADHD and spatial awareness.

I got my licence in the 80s at almost 18. I'm ADHD but I didn't know at the time, so at least I didn't have the mindset that it might be dangerous. 40 years later I've had only one accident which was the result of poor road sign visibility in a construction zone. My kids are autistic and they have their licence but there's no way on earth they could afford to own a car. My son doesn't even like driving. They both abstain a lot because they use CBD. My daughter also has Epilepsy but it only affects her stomach so they said she's OK to drive.


the guy with autism from chicago that i'm in contact with, he says he uses paratransit for transportation to work and to other places as well, he claims he is high functioning, but paratransit sounds like public transportation for something more extreme.



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24 Jun 2024, 1:36 pm

I used it for almost four years but that was after a stroke when I wasn't allowed to drive. They said it wouldn't have been available for autism alone.


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WantToHaveALife
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24 Jun 2024, 1:38 pm

IsabellaLinton wrote:
I used it for almost four years but that was after a stroke when I wasn't allowed to drive. They said it wouldn't have been available for autism alone.


yeah, if he uses paratransit, i would think he has other health conditions besides autism that require him to use that.



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24 Jun 2024, 4:03 pm

I find it impossibly difficult to drive, and it's not because I haven't tried.

The main obstacles are that I can't make left turns, can't merge, can't change lanes, can't pull into traffic (unless traffic is very very light). This is because all of these actions require being aware of several moving things at once that are on different sides of you, including you yourself being in motion. I can't do that at all. I am stunned that anyone on the spectrum can drive, though I understand that ASD affects everyone differently.

For a few years I had a car and drove every day, so it's not that I never learned or had any practice. But I lived in a place where traffic was pretty light, and still I often had to make three right turns to avoid having to make a left, and if there was a delivery truck blocking the right lane of traffic, I would just turn right, before getting to it, so I wouldn't have to go around it, etc.



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24 Jun 2024, 4:12 pm

I think I lucked out because I learned when I was so young, before I even knew all the things to worry about. I'm terrible at spatial awareness so I'm surprised I can manage. I can't focus if I have passengers, radio announcers, or anyone talking including the weatherman. I can't drive very well in silence either. I need blasting loud music which somehow gives me hyperfocus on the road as I sing along at the top of my lungs. It doesn't make sense but somehow I guess the music drowns out traffic noises so that all I notice is the road. I can't / don't use GPS either. The voice would drive me nuts and I'd be apt to stare at the map when driving.


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24 Jun 2024, 4:51 pm

WantToHaveALife wrote:
As in many of the threads i started here, it annoys or irritates me on how there is a word limit on what you can put in the "subject", when asking a question.

Because that would turn subforum screens into walls of text.

Your subject question can be fairly short: "Why many people with autism don't drive?"

And to answer your question, I don't know. I drive. I definitely have limitations, I have difficulty multitasking, but if I'm going my planned route I have no problems.

I live in a suburb where there is no public transportation, so that would have been essential anyway. I suppose it helped that cars are one of my special interests.



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24 Jun 2024, 5:39 pm

My driving became much better as I became more comfortable with non-verbal communication.
Four way intersections. Who goes first? I had a lot of trouble with that.

Roundabouts. Finally realized I can go around more than once to figure out the right exit!



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24 Jun 2024, 5:42 pm

BTDT wrote:
My driving became much better as I became more comfortable with non-verbal communication.
Four way intersections. Who goes first? I had a lot of trouble with that.

If I see someone else coming I either speed up to arrive first, so I would go first, or slow down early if I see the other car will arrive first, so we wouldn't be waiting on each other to decide who will go.
BTDT wrote:
Roundabouts. Finally realized I can go around more than once to figure out the right exit!

That's a good way to annoy a driver trying to get on. :lol: But yes, you can do that.