At Saddlers Drive we offer specialist driver training utilising Ian Whitehouse's 32 years experience in the driver training industry.
Several of our customers have specific needs such as Autism.
Here we have tried to develop a training aid for both learner drivers and ADI driving instructors. We have sought expert advice, but welcome any further input from experts in this field.
Many people with special requirements learn to drive successfully and make excellent drivers. When working as a DSA Examiner for 22 years, I tested people who overcame the most totally extraordinary physical disabilities and learning difficulties who passed the test successfully and usually to an extremely high standard. As a driving instructor the quickest learning pupil I ever taught was profoundly deaf and passed the test first time with zero faults.
Be aware of potential difficulties as a driving instructor;
In the case of autistic spectrum disorders, some difficulties when learning to drive can include difficulties with multi-tasking, poor motor control or dyspraxia, some perceptual problems, and problems with sequencing. These should not be a barrier to gaining a licence but as a trainer you will need to be aware that they may present difficulties.
Applying for a Driving Licence
The rules that require you to disclose a diagnosis of an ASD and procedure for applying for a driving licence can be found on the DVLA website: http://www.dvla.gov.uk/medical.aspx for England, Scotland and Wales.
If you do not disclose your diagnosis at the time of application you could be fined up to £1000. You could be prosecuted if you are involved in an accident.
Guidance for Driving Instructors
People with autism may have trouble with organisational skills, this is regardless of their overall intelligence or age. Remember it is important to always praise the student when he/she remembers something which was previously forgotten.
Be aware a lecture on the subject will not only be unhelpful, it can sometimes make the problem worse. The pupil may begin to believe he can't remember to do anything.
Any increase of unusual behaviour probably indicates stress. The stress may well be caused by a feeling of loss of control. When this happens you should take the pupil into a safe place to alleviate the stressful situation, nothing will be achieved by simply leaving the pupil to sort it themselves.
Be straight forward and direct when speaking to the pupil, remember things like facial expressions and prompting may not work. Avoid questions such as "why did you do that?"
Avoid sarcasm and jokes.
We hope this information is useful to you