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Autism and (learning how to) drive

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AUTISM AND (LEARNING HOW TO) DRIVE

An autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is one of the most frequent developmental disabilities affecting about 1% of the population worldwide. An ASD is characterized by communication challenges, social-interaction difficulties and limitations in flexible thinking and acting, but does it also have an influence on (learning how to) drive? As they may have additional cognitive problems, their driving behaviour can differ from young novice drivers without ASD. We examined the underlying mechanisms of the driving behaviour of young novice drivers with ASD. Data was gathered through questionnaires and driving simulator studies.



Integrating repetition, structure and visualisation in driving lessons

A survey among Flemish driving instructors pointed out that young people with ASD can experience difficulties when learning how to drive (e.g. multitasking, properly reacting to unexpected situations). Driving instructors can support them by repeating, structuring and visualizing the driving task. According to their parents, for some young people with ASD, fear of driving can play an important role in those problems. The results showed that a driving simulator training can be a useful instrument to step by step learn young novice drivers with ASD how to drive and thus to improve their driving ability, the target group’s associated skills and attitudes towards driving.

Cooperation between REVAL (Hasselt University), University of Virginia and University of Iowa
IMOB, REVAL (Hasselt University), University of Virginia and University of Iowa shared knowledge and exchanged experiences, which allowed us to carry out a profound study.

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