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BellevilleAspie
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20 Feb 2016, 4:22 pm

Not quite a 'work' related topic, but I couldn't find anywhere else where this was appropriate to post.

I'm 29 years old and I took drivers ed in High School and did PASS, but I was too nervous and anxious to take the driving test to get my license. I had a very bad experience when I was 15 and first learning to drive, ending up crashing the family car into a sign post in a parking lot (no body was hurt, but the car took about $500 worth of damage.) when I was learning to park in a parking spot. Fortunately no crashes in the Driver's Ed course, but I was marked as while passing, as quite nervous which isn't so good. Still even today that incident when I was 15 still lingers hard, however the need for another driver in the family is quickly becoming an increasing necessity as my mother is getting more ill and technically isn't supposed to drive, but dad works all week, and other transportation options aren't all that great or efficient, also lots of red tape to go though in order to get them like Med buses, and rides to appointments and what not. While I can mechanically drive (I know how to stop, accelerate, steer (more or less), and shift gears on an automatic transmission) and could probably do it in an absolute emergency, I'm just to anxious to formally drive/get a license due to past experiences.

So long story short has anyone else had difficulty learning to drive, getting their license (taking the driving test in particular), and if so what did you do to cope and pass this barrier? Up to this point I've relied on my parents for rides to places that either the bus or metro train doesn't go to, and or is too far to ride a bicycle/walk to (greater then 2-3 miles). Heck, I'm even too nervous/anxious to ride on the road which is what you're supposed to do while riding a bike in Illinois, so end up riding on the sidewalk or shoulder if one is present. Going from being nervous riding a bike on the street to going behind the wheel of a car with confidence is a huge almost titanic leap for me, and a huddle if I chose to pursue it.



ACinTX
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20 Feb 2016, 5:13 pm

Good topic. For myself and my son, we have a (genetic) disorder for which ASD is a co-morbidity. And with all of that, we've been told by specialists that depth perception might be an issue. So many of those in our small rare disorder population do not drive as a result. I was surprised as I drive... but anxiety is an issue. I basically keep to driving locally and steer clear of any long trips or things that freak me out.

The more you practice driving on the road in a safe predictable pattern -- over time, it will be easy and like clockwork. Maybe you can try a short trip to see how you handle it? I found out that I prefer to drive during rush hour as the stop and go pattern was very easy to handle. But I detest driving in open freeway/highway situations where the speed limit is ignored and that scares me. I hope this helps. Good luck with your situation.



aeonon
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20 Feb 2016, 5:49 pm

I did not have drivers ed offered at my high school, so I can't chime in on that experience. I had not much interest in learning to drive as a teen. When I was in my early 20s I got a learners permit and was practicing with my parents in parking lots. I was able to handle parking lots fairly well, though got pretty stressed out. On the roads, it was really difficult to deal with multiple situations. I failed my road test after a few years of practice. I don't anticipate driving in the future, though I could drive in an emergency (though I might be way to anxious/disoriented for this to be a safe situation). I suffer from "lost time" where I totally space out pretty often, which makes driving rather hazardous. The spacing out also precludes many jobs. The spacing out is bad enough that I am really bad at most video games for example.



Cyllya1
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20 Feb 2016, 6:25 pm

It was very hard for me to learn how to drive, but I eventually managed with enough practice. It's a pain that you have to have someone with you to practice.

You don't have to be perfect. I had trouble (still some now, but it was much worse around the time I got my license) with making turns into small spots, aka entering a parking space. So I usually park in the back of the parking lot where there are no other cars.

There was a learning curve for controlling the car at higher speeds, but overall I've found it much easier to drive on the freeway.


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btbnnyr
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20 Feb 2016, 9:31 pm

I used to be nervous about driving, but I got over it by rationally discounting it and going forth and driving.
First, I drove more on local roads.
Then, I drove on the freeway at night when there was less traffic.
Then, I drove on the freeway during the day.
Now, I can drive anywhere in any situation without any nervousness, and I enjoy driving, it is quite relaxing to put on the car radio and drive around.
So I think the best solution may be to say #@%^ it and go forth and drive.
Of course, the severity of your anxiety about driving does matter.
If you are so anxious that your hands shake and you start having panic attacks, then it would be unsafe to drive until you reduce anxiety to some lower level of merely nervous.
But if it is not too severe, then I would just go forth and drive, working your way up from short trips in low traffic times.


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Finalfate
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20 Feb 2016, 10:10 pm

Driving has always been a strength of mine, but I relate to your feelings, so I have a few things to offer.

While I did not have driver's ed at my school, I also refused to take the course privately due to the anxiety of having an instructor and being with kids my own age. I took an online course, then passed the real test on my 18th birthday. I also have a lot of anxiety when it comes to basically anything outside of my house due to stereotypical sensory and social problems.

My understanding is that your anxiety is not affected by who is in the car, but by trauma specific to driving. This suggests that those of us with ASD may not have coping strategies that would be effective in your situation. I believe practice would be the best way to overcome your anxiety, as ACinTX first suggested. You will eventually learn on a subconscious level that the vast majority of driving experiences have a positive outcome.

Based on your circumstances, I think you should just keep your learner's permit until you feel ready to go for the real thing, no pressure. Until then, drive as much as possible, and know that minor accidents are almost necessary as a part of learning.

I think riding a bike on the road would be more anxious for me than driving, because there's more outside noise and I'm more vulnerable. Therefore, I wouldn't make the comparison. Just get comfortable in the car and you'll be good.



BellevilleAspie
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20 Feb 2016, 11:10 pm

Finalfate wrote:
Driving has always been a strength of mine, but I relate to your feelings, so I have a few things to offer.

While I did not have driver's ed at my school, I also refused to take the course privately due to the anxiety of having an instructor and being with kids my own age. I took an online course, then passed the real test on my 18th birthday. I also have a lot of anxiety when it comes to basically anything outside of my house due to stereotypical sensory and social problems.

My understanding is that your anxiety is not affected by who is in the car, but by trauma specific to driving. This suggests that those of us with ASD may not have coping strategies that would be effective in your situation. I believe practice would be the best way to overcome your anxiety, as ACinTX first suggested. You will eventually learn on a subconscious level that the vast majority of driving experiences have a positive outcome.

Based on your circumstances, I think you should just keep your learner's permit until you feel ready to go for the real thing, no pressure. Until then, drive as much as possible, and know that minor accidents are almost necessary as a part of learning.

I think riding a bike on the road would be more anxious for me than driving, because there's more outside noise and I'm more vulnerable. Therefore, I wouldn't make the comparison. Just get comfortable in the car and you'll be good.


It's a bit more then that, I do also have the fear of being 'graded or ridiculed' which causes me to be more nervous. If it was just me, and only me, I would probably be fine with practice and getting comfortable, judging maneuvers, how much to turn the wheel to steer, etc. I also don't have a permit yet as this was like 11 years ago, those permits don't last all that long in Illinois. That said it's not hard to get another one and give it another go.

I have also considered going to a driving school as after that little incident back when I was 15, my folks aren't quite up to letting me drive the car. In the metro east of St. Louis (Illinois side of the Mississippi River), there isn't much choices in terms of driving schools, and only 2 in the nearby area that take adults. Other down side is cost at anywhere between 65 to 80 bucks an hour session. It's not cheap, and while if I decide to pursue it my folks would help me pay for it, I'd just hate the fact of wasting their money and other people's time if I chicken out last minute come the driving test.

What I need to find is a school that knows how to handle adults with intellectual Disabilities like Autism or Asperger's and get to know them (if possible), to feel more comfortable, then practice in the immediate neighborhood which has very low traffic and low speed limit to get more comfortable with handling and judging turns, stopping, accelerating (alone if possible, then after some time with a passenger like a family member or family friend) Go through a few outtings with the Driving Instructioner. I'm sure they will likely do a mock test of the Illinois Driver's Test and run through it until I feel confident. Of all things you know what drives me the most? Surprisingly parking particularly in lots and let alone parallel parking though I think that can give anyone even some experienced drivers nightmares. Accurately judging distance between cars and my car being the hardest part. I really do tend to over think things as well, which can be an asset in some instances, but a real downer in others.

The key is I need positive reinforcement and someone with a gentle and kind manner that doesn't correct harshly. If I can find that some one that will help greatly. My folks aren't pressuring me to drive at all, saying that it has to be something that I want to do, not because there's a need for it (saying that's a bad reason.) Which I do agree with them, but on the same token being able to drive will open up many new avenues that I didn't have access to before and help build my independence for when the inevitable moment comes where I'll need to fend off for myself. Hopefully by the time however, cars will drive themselves. :D



taiwanluthiers
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24 Feb 2016, 1:23 am

I don't think I'm bad at driving, I just don't have much practice at it because cars cost too much and unless I live somewhere with much lower rent, it isn't realistic. Honestly the last thing Austin needs is more cars...

I passed a driving test before, and if I could only get more wheel time in a more controlled setting (no chance of hurting someone or doing damage) I can definitely do it. It's just not a priority right now because I'm concerned with finishing school, and my job is only a short bus ride away. Plus bus is free for me so why not? free is good...



BellevilleAspie
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05 Mar 2016, 9:37 pm

Time for a bit of an update on this:

I have made a decision, and that decision is to try and go for it once again (3rd time's the charm right?). I'll taking the written test for my permit on Thursday of next week, and then the following week (Monday or Tuesday), I will likely be taking my first lesson/session with a driving school that's about 2 miles from my house. They instructor I'll be working with is a retired military veteran, and has worked with numerous students (teenager and adult) that are nervous or anxious like I am, and also they claim he's worked with clients on the spectrum specifically high functioning Autism and Asperger's with decent success rate. The lessons are 65 bucks an for an hour long individual session (So it will be just me and the instructor, the car, and no one else). Not too bad a price for a individual private time slot. My folks have even offered to pick up the tab, whether I succeed or later decide that I can't handle it, as at least I would of given it a shot.

I told my mom that if I do manage to take the driving exam and get my license that I will drive her to see the total solar eclipse next year in August, so plenty of time. If not, then my folks made it clear that there is no pressure and they won't be mad or disappointed if I back out or don't manage to pass the driving exam. I am quite a bit nervous (both positive and negatively) of how things are going to go, especially with regards to the actual driving. The written test don't bother me at all, I've taken it before, and I've taken numerous mock exams online with almost the exact same questions that will be be on the exam at my state of Illinois. I've passed every mock test with a 80% or better, some as high as 100%, so I'm almost guaranteed to pass the written portion. Once I get my permit I'll have to hold it for 3 months before I can take the driving exam for my actual license, and I have up to a year to do it before I have to renew the permit.

As far as anxiety goes, it's not apparently as bad as some people. In some people I've read that they are so nervous and scared of driving or cars in general that they won't want to look at a car, let alone get in one (even as a passenger). Fortunately for me it's not that bad. It's just getting into that driver's seat that worries me, especially when I actually have to control the car. Hopefully though the instructor will take things nice and slowly and be willing to work with me as long as it takes to build my confidence and experience until it becomes second nature, if not pretty darn close.