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dazzer12
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01 Aug 2017, 11:54 am

Hi so i am new here, i have introduced myself on the appropriate part of the forum i have also searched for driving on the forum before posting and yes it found many posts but thought i would start my own thread relating to myself.

Ok so i have always struggled with driving even before being diagnosed with Aspergers syndrome in fact it was probably these difficulties that got me sign posted to the Autism spectrum disorder clinic and more to the point the sensory issues i experience whilst driving.

So on very local roads to me and journeys that are small and rehearsed/common to me i do kind of manage but when the journeys are not common and the roads are not local i begin to have problems for instance motor way driving here in the uk now a nice small well contained 3 lane motorway is fairly acceptable to me but as that motorway then opens up in to 4 or 5 lanes and i am presented with all the other fast moving traffic i have sensory overload and have a panic attack.

Another trigger is when i go from a visually contained motorway or road where i have limited view other than the road ahead and everything is just fine but all of a sudden the view becomes less contained and i am presented with a vast expanse which i can now see basically the landscape this throws me to a huge extent and i have panic attacks thinking i am going to fall off the world and that the world is just to big :(

Furthermore Bridges an Example for me in the uk is thelwall viaduct on the m6 where all of a sudden i have a tremendous view that i wish i did not, i can see for miles in all directions and for some strange reason i become like a lemming and end up trying to drive off the bridge and my passenger has had to grab the steering wheel to avoid this :|

i could go on, country lanes or hilly regions where the view is immense causes the same fear i go from dealing with a certain amount of visual information to almost infinite visual information in the turn of a corner.

I really need to drive and was wondering how many others have issues similar to this, what i call sensory overload and what if any coping strategies people use.



questor
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01 Aug 2017, 7:25 pm

I have trouble in busy downtown areas, especially if I haven't been there before. Fortunately, I live in a more rural/suburban area, so the towns around here are mostly small. I can handle the bigger downtown areas of a larger town alright once I get to know it better.


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QuantumChemist
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01 Aug 2017, 7:33 pm

I have a fear of heights that greatly affects me on suspended bridges and mountain roads. The ladder I found out earlier this year while riding in a car going to a camping trip. I freeze up and have a hard time concentrating on the road and not the height difference.



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01 Aug 2017, 9:38 pm

I don't get sensory overload when driving, but do have a fairly strong fear of driving. I think for me it is because I have difficulty judging depth/the width of the car, and also have difficulty adapting to and reacting to the other cars, so it's worst in heavier traffic and/roads with lots of traffic and curves. To deal with the anxiety, it helps me to plan out my exact route ahead of time, including lane changes, and stick to that route as much as is possible. The more anxious I am, the harder it is to deviate from it. I also remind myself that traffic flow follows rules and that if I can keep my car in my lane, I will not hit the vehicles next to me, so I concentrate on centering the car between the two white lines and not focusing as much on the other traffic around me.



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02 Aug 2017, 12:43 am

You have to work up to things gradually. One time I drove from Canada to San Francisco with an NT friend in his car. We stayed about a month, and I wouldn't let him drive me in that traffic, even though it was his car. He didn't mind riding, and once, he gave vital advice as co-pilot. Another time, driving my NT girlfriend's car up the coast, she decided she'd like to drive a bit. As luck would have it, a few minutes later, we hit the giant Astoria Bridge and she really started to panic, going up into the sky. I had to coach her to keep her eyes only on the road, and neither of us got to enjoy the view. I had another NT GF who had driven on mountain roads all her life, but never studied driving. She was on an unfamiliar road, searching for a radio station and then noticed that she was almost off the pavement. She jerked the steering wheel, overcorrected twice, and went straight off the edge.



Colourfulsoul
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02 Aug 2017, 1:01 am

I feel like a danger on the road. I tried after 7.5 years practice to get my license and still failed in the first 10 mins. It may be one of those things I never do.


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dazzer12
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02 Aug 2017, 10:59 am

i really need to drive will tinted or wrap around glasses possibly help?



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02 Aug 2017, 11:05 am

dazzer12 wrote:
i really need to drive will tinted or wrap around glasses possibly help?


No. You need sharp vision. Has anyone tried video game driver training? What you need is enough time to not just get accustomed to the environment, but to develop automatic responses to it, as you do to balance and avoid stuff when walking around.



EverythingAndNothing
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02 Aug 2017, 11:22 am

Keladry wrote:
I don't get sensory overload when driving, but do have a fairly strong fear of driving. I think for me it is because I have difficulty judging depth/the width of the car, and also have difficulty adapting to and reacting to the other cars, so it's worst in heavier traffic and/roads with lots of traffic and curves. To deal with the anxiety, it helps me to plan out my exact route ahead of time, including lane changes, and stick to that route as much as is possible. The more anxious I am, the harder it is to deviate from it. I also remind myself that traffic flow follows rules and that if I can keep my car in my lane, I will not hit the vehicles next to me, so I concentrate on centering the car between the two white lines and not focusing as much on the other traffic around me.



This is my problem as well. I can't judge the depth or length of the car for changing lanes and even backing the car up and I have a hard time anticipating other cars movements. I've slowly learned to relax when I'm driving familiar routes but I have extreme anxiety going anywhere new to the point where I usually end up not going at all. I had to go to an oral surgeon last month and I felt like I was about to have a nervous breakdown by the time I found the place.



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02 Aug 2017, 11:49 am

EverythingAndNothing wrote:
Keladry wrote:
I don't get sensory overload when driving, but do have a fairly strong fear of driving. I think for me it is because I have difficulty judging depth/the width of the car, and also have difficulty adapting to and reacting to the other cars, so it's worst in heavier traffic and/roads with lots of traffic and curves. To deal with the anxiety, it helps me to plan out my exact route ahead of time, including lane changes, and stick to that route as much as is possible. The more anxious I am, the harder it is to deviate from it. I also remind myself that traffic flow follows rules and that if I can keep my car in my lane, I will not hit the vehicles next to me, so I concentrate on centering the car between the two white lines and not focusing as much on the other traffic around me.



This is my problem as well. I can't judge the depth or length of the car for changing lanes and even backing the car up and I have a hard time anticipating other cars movements. I've slowly learned to relax when I'm driving familiar routes but I have extreme anxiety going anywhere new to the point where I usually end up not going at all. I had to go to an oral surgeon last month and I felt like I was about to have a nervous breakdown by the time I found the place.


I understand completely :( It sucks. I really wish we had more public transportation available! (US here)



anti_gone
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02 Aug 2017, 11:51 am

Why do you need to drive?

Is there no public transport in your area? Do you need driving for your job?



EverythingAndNothing
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02 Aug 2017, 12:02 pm

Keladry wrote:
EverythingAndNothing wrote:
Keladry wrote:
I don't get sensory overload when driving, but do have a fairly strong fear of driving. I think for me it is because I have difficulty judging depth/the width of the car, and also have difficulty adapting to and reacting to the other cars, so it's worst in heavier traffic and/roads with lots of traffic and curves. To deal with the anxiety, it helps me to plan out my exact route ahead of time, including lane changes, and stick to that route as much as is possible. The more anxious I am, the harder it is to deviate from it. I also remind myself that traffic flow follows rules and that if I can keep my car in my lane, I will not hit the vehicles next to me, so I concentrate on centering the car between the two white lines and not focusing as much on the other traffic around me.



This is my problem as well. I can't judge the depth or length of the car for changing lanes and even backing the car up and I have a hard time anticipating other cars movements. I've slowly learned to relax when I'm driving familiar routes but I have extreme anxiety going anywhere new to the point where I usually end up not going at all. I had to go to an oral surgeon last month and I felt like I was about to have a nervous breakdown by the time I found the place.


I understand completely :( It sucks. I really wish we had more public transportation available! (US here)



I really wish this were true as well. My goal is to move to a more urban area where I can bike and take a bus everywhere without even having to own a car. I hate it so much. I actually insisted on walking everywhere until about a year ago when I got a job too far away and was forced to start driving. It always amazes me when people can drive to new places without getting stressed out. I always feel like I'm one wrong turn away from being hopelessly lost and unable to ever find my way home.



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02 Aug 2017, 12:29 pm

EverythingAndNothing wrote:
Keladry wrote:
EverythingAndNothing wrote:
Keladry wrote:
I don't get sensory overload when driving, but do have a fairly strong fear of driving. I think for me it is because I have difficulty judging depth/the width of the car, and also have difficulty adapting to and reacting to the other cars, so it's worst in heavier traffic and/roads with lots of traffic and curves. To deal with the anxiety, it helps me to plan out my exact route ahead of time, including lane changes, and stick to that route as much as is possible. The more anxious I am, the harder it is to deviate from it. I also remind myself that traffic flow follows rules and that if I can keep my car in my lane, I will not hit the vehicles next to me, so I concentrate on centering the car between the two white lines and not focusing as much on the other traffic around me.



This is my problem as well. I can't judge the depth or length of the car for changing lanes and even backing the car up and I have a hard time anticipating other cars movements. I've slowly learned to relax when I'm driving familiar routes but I have extreme anxiety going anywhere new to the point where I usually end up not going at all. I had to go to an oral surgeon last month and I felt like I was about to have a nervous breakdown by the time I found the place.


I understand completely :( It sucks. I really wish we had more public transportation available! (US here)



I really wish this were true as well. My goal is to move to a more urban area where I can bike and take a bus everywhere without even having to own a car. I hate it so much. I actually insisted on walking everywhere until about a year ago when I got a job too far away and was forced to start driving. It always amazes me when people can drive to new places without getting stressed out. I always feel like I'm one wrong turn away from being hopelessly lost and unable to ever find my way home.


Yes, yes, and yes :) I actually was able to go about 7 years with no car, and got around by public transportation, walking, and biking, with an occasional ride from a friend or colleague when I needed to go somewhere that I couldn't reach by other means. It won't work where I currently live as I am in a medium-sized town in the midwest (USA), so basically would be stranded without a car :(

Quote:
Why do you need to drive?

Is there no public transport in your area? Do you need driving for your job?


Most of the places I have lived are completely devoid of any type of public transport. Huge swathes of the US are that way, and if you don't have a car, you basically can't go anywhere. Even things like getting groceries are impossible as the nearest grocery store is often 2-3 miles away (if you are lucky) or 20-30 miles away if you are unlucky and live in a very rural area. For a time, I was able to arrange living/working circumstances so that I could bike to work and lived near 3 bus routes so could actually get around the city, but that was when I lived in a much more urban area, and bus times still were horrible - going to the grocery store usually took about half a day due to the poorly planned bus schedules/times/routes.



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02 Aug 2017, 1:51 pm

Planning your life around bicycle use is more problematic in the US than most countries, but it can be a very positive influence on your life. It eliminates often huge and unpredictable expenses and improves both general health and mood. I drove cab for years while only using a bike myself. If you find your home, shops and work by bike, they will all be within comfortable range, and you can do a much finer-grained search.
Perhaps many of our members would do better to refine their cycling skills. I had one friend who gave up her car, and then got in a bad accident where any kid would have just made a little jump. Even afterward, she just couldn't understand that there was more to "being able to ride a bike" than she had picked up as a girl.



EyeDash
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02 Aug 2017, 4:05 pm

Thanks for starting this thread. I've had the exact problems driving that you described, but didn't associate it with my autism. Wide, multi-lane highways are really hard for me. And roads that open out onto a wide landscape are very challenging. Bridges or roads on a steep mountainside are next to impossible. A lot of times I can ignore my sensory issues, but I can get overwhelmed when flooded with large amounts of information all at once about heights and speeds and distances. Once on a freeway, I remember that my normal perception of the car moving through a stationary landscape suddenly got replaced by a perception of a still car and interior with an onrushing landscape zooming around me outside of the windshield. That was really disorienting. I can get into such fear that my hands grip the steering wheel painfully tightly and I start to slow way down, which is a bad thing on a highway or freeway. I've gone to enormous lengths to map out routes on Google Maps to make sure I won't encounter something I can't handle and so I know the route by heart in case I might make a wrong turn somewhere. My mind seems to not just be located in the car - I feel as if I'm all over the area, which is why steep roads or bridges scare me to death. I really understand the lemming-like behavior driving on bridges. I've resorted to asking acquaintances to drive on occasion. I also started using Blue-Blocker sunglasses, which help some with the visual overload. The fear and difficulty become less if I drive a route repeatedly, but I've also found that if I try a familiar route after being away from it for a few years, the difficulties return. It's not just an anxiety-related phenomenon and when I've forced myself on a difficult drive, it can get dangerous. I was on anxiety medication for awhile and it did zero to help with the problem. I'm in Colorado and have used shuttle services when I've had to go to the airport as the freeway is a nightmare. There are some local shuttles that I should check out, but I avoid public buses as I've had bad experiences with that when younger - it's not always safe, especially if you're autistic.