Autism And Driving: 1 In 3 Teens With Autism Licensed To Drive By 17 - Is It Safe?

By Amanda Moore, Parent Herald April 17, 04:00 am
High-functioning teens with autism are able to obtain a license to at 17-years-old and experts.
(Photo : Andreas Rentz/Getty Images)

Learning how to drive is a milestone for any teenager and a study revealed one in three teens with autism get their license to drive at averagely 17-years-old. Is driving for people with autism safe?

The study looked into 52,000 health records and the New Jersey driver licensing data for any patterns in relation to autism and driving. The experts found out some 82 percent of teens with autism earn their learner's permit within one year, while 90 percent earn theirs in two years' time.

Some 94 percent of teens without any autism disorder averagely earn their permits in one year, while 98 percent of regular teens earn theirs within a two-year period. The difference in numbers shows how many teens with autism are committed to having a driver's license.

The experts said for as long as the teen with autism does not have any physical disability, driving could actually be a safe and positive experience. Their disorder shouldn't hinder them from learning the skill. The experts published their findings in the journal Autism.

"Our results indicate that a substantial proportion of adolescents with ASD do get licensed," study author Allison E. Curry of the Center for Injury Research and Prevention (CIRP) at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia said, as per Science Daily. "Support is needed to help families make the decision whether or not to drive before these adolescents become eligible for a learner's permit."

Curry suggests for parents of teens with autism who are considering driving to make plans at least two years earlier than the legal age to drive. It might be necessary to include driving lessons in a teen's Individualized Education Plan (IEP) with his school as well.

Curry also suggests for families to see an occupational therapist or a certified rehabilitation driving specialist to guide teens with autism in driving, according to CBS Philadelphia. A talk with the teenager's doctor must also be done for an evaluation and to address concerns like attention issues and understanding of road safety measures.

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