Aspergers and Driving Judgment – Planning to Make it Clear

Driving with Autism

Aspergers youth process information differently than their neuro-typical peers. More specifically, they generally think in a visual, concrete, detail-oriented manner for every task. They like to know every detail about something, especially when it is critical to survival and to excellence at a given task; driving encompasses both survival and excellence.

Driver’s education courses and books serve as necessary and insightful preparatory activities for the inexperienced and exceptional driver. Further, each driver has different habits and preferences, good and bad. When a driver or parent uses these habits advantageously, they serve as indicators for level of comfort and as foreshadowers of future mistakes.

Among the most common and serious issues that Aspergers youth face is the fact that many of them do not always think fast enough to make snap decisions. This issue especially applies when Aspergers drivers travel in unfamiliar places in general.

For example: an Aspergers driver who usually travels on two-lane in-state roadways near his home would likely have trouble navigating through a series of one-way city streets in Baltimore, MD, considering that he does not typically watch out for one-way signs there.

As a safeguard, they desire to stick with the same few routes every day because they fit into their pre-established driving parameters. These parameters could include the avoidance of bridges due to fear of heights or bumpy roads due to sensory overload caused by bouncing in the seat.

Let’s face it, unpleasant stimulation and loss of direction often triggers meltdowns and panic attacks in the Aspergers driver, thereby further clouding his judgment. Behind the wheel, one bad situation leads to another.

To resolve these issues, there are actions that parents and Aspergers drivers can both take to make judgment clear in order to ensure safe travels.

4 Tips for Drivers with Aspergers to Get Comfortable Before They Hit the Road

Driving with Autism Series

Drivers with Aspergers like to have every detail in place in accordance with their personal preferences. They want to precisely change things like the climate control and the radio. These changes allow for comfort and, therefore, enjoyment while driving.

However, one thing to note is that the drivers may have trouble changing these things while they drive. The best thing to do is to make adjustments before the car rolls.

Here is a brief list of suggestions for the Aspergers driver to feel comfortable in their vehicle in order for them to focus only on the road while driving:

  1. Take any items out of pockets and find places for them in the car so that they are secure, but safely out of the driver’s way;
  2. Always wear a seatbelt, no matter what! Make sure that the driver adjusts the strap so that it is not painful or itchy;
  3. Purchase a solar shield that specifically fits the car and use the air conditioning during the hot days. Anybody, especially an Aspergers driver who has sensory hypersensitivity, could not bear to sit in a car with an excessively hot interior. During the warmer weather, use a solar shield and crank up the air conditioning to eliminate stifling heat; then drive when the inside cools down. The opposites apply to cold weather.
  4. Study the car and determine where all of the switches and buttons are so that the driver can quickly adjust while driving. It always helps to know where to find all of the specific gizmos in a car so that the driver can push the buttons without looking at them for more than a split second. Further, such features on the dashboard particularly intrigue Aspergers drivers, considering that they always feel compelled to know EVERY detail about their vehicle. Simply allow the driver to examine the car’s interior and to experiment with all of the various gizmos.

These constitute four of many things that certainly ensure driver comfort. The note to drivers is to identify what offers comfort and what does not and to always feel comfortable behind the wheel.

Learn more about AS101’s “Driving with Autism” here!

Please consider donating to help support this initiative.

DONATE TODAY

drivig-with-autism-decal-with-texas-2

“Driving with Autism” is an AspDriving with Autism logoergers101 series that educates and empowers the driver diagnosed with High-Functioning Autism or Asperger’s Syndrome. Aspergers101 has teamed up with the Texas DPS in training Texas State Troopers about the uniqueness of Autism and understanding the Autistic driver. This partnership is garnering encouraging results.

Article by Reese Eskridge

Reese Eskridge

Reese Eskridge is a Production Technician with Fairville Products, who is passionate about working in the sciences (biology) and wishes to take his work experiences further into the fields of Educational Neuroscience; Science Fiction; Freelance Writing; Disability Advocacy; Public Speaking; Leadership and Entrepreneurship. Aspergers101 is proud to offer the insights and perceptions of the talented Mr. Eskridge, who is obviously living life on the spectrum to it’s fullest!

You may contact Reese at: reeseesk@udel.edu

“Driving with Autism and other Communication Impediments”

:30 Public Service Announcement

We at Aspergers101 would like to thank all who’ve taken part in getting the “Driving with Autism and other Communication Impediments” initiative state-wide in Texas! Through your comments we’ve edited the final Public Service Announcement, added closed captioning and it is now airing across Texas on both TV and radio stations…thank you! The framed posters and informative tri-fold brochures are now in all DPS Driver License Offices informing citizens of their option to utilize the restriction code informing law enforcement of the diagnosis of: Autism, Asperger Syndrome, Deafness, Parkinson’s Disease, Mild Intellectual Disability, Down Syndrome, Mutism and other communication challenges. You will begin to see other diagnosis highlighted, we will have someone whose been deaf since birth sign in a PSA similar to Sams. What a blessed journey this has been for our family…to God be the Glory, great things he has done.  – Jennifer Allen/Founder & CEO Aspergers101

 

So what is a communication impediment with a Peace Officer? 
Most common diagnosis include: Autism, Asperger Syndrome, Mild intellectual disability, Deafness, Speech & languages disorders, Expressive Language Disorder, Down Syndrome, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Deafness, Brain Injury or Parkinson’s Disease.

How can you get Communication Impediment with a Peace Officer on your Texas driver license or state ID?

Only two actions required:
1. Have your doctor complete and sign a Physician’s Statement, Form DL101, affirming the Autism, Asperger, speech disability or other appropriate diagnosis.
2. On driver license application KL14A/S be sure and complete line 7 on the form.

For more information contact Jennifer Allen at: jallen100@att.net or go to: https://aspergers101.com/drivingwithautism/  

Aspergers and Driver’s Ed: The Options Available to You

Driving with Autism in Texas

This blog was originally published when Jennifer had initially discovered the discrepancies in the Texas State DPS system when it came to the “Communication Impediment” as an option for those with Autism. Since then, Jennifer and Aspergers101 have worked tirelessly to change current laws and promote this beneficial option for drivers with Autism in Texas. To learn more about what Jennifer Allen and Aspergers101 have done for drivers with Autism in the state of Texas, go here:

Driving with Autism Initiative

Having a son with Aspergers Syndrome is always a learning curve. I haven’t had a living template from which to go by. Every small milestone in Sam’s young life has seemed so much larger hurdling than it was in mine or my husband’s life. So as we approached the driver’s education opportunity in high school, we rolled up our sleeves and got busy in research. Though gifted with a high intellect, oftentimes those with Aspergers Syndrome or High functioning Autism are 2 to 3 years behind on an emotional level. Emotions often play into driving (ie…people with road rage) so I took that into account when Sam approached the typical 16 year old age of driving.

While we wanted him to go with his class, we held back a bit and it didn’t seem to bother Sam.

We waited a year for Drivers Ed and I went to the district, before he began, and spoke to the Director of Student Driving about Aspergers Syndrome.

They were aware of it but I made sure the driving instructor assigned to Sam knew about how sarcasm, loud noises from fellow student drivers or impromptu journeys would not fare well. Though a bit older than the other student drivers, Sam did well and completed the course.

The next big step was the actual test at the DPS. Here is where I want to share valuable information!

Through persistence on our part, we were able to have “Communication Impediment” put on the restrictions section (where they list use for glasses and such) of Sam’s Drivers license. This offers some security for when/if Sam is pulled over by a policeman and the officer is threatening to him. The officer will see on Sam’s license that he has Autism, and difficulty communicating as we know could be misconstrued for bad attitude.

Please check into this for yourself or for your child’s sake! You might have to put on your investigative hat (our local DPS office had never heard of this). But, when they checked with the state level (we’re in Texas) it was confirmed you could put Autism in the computer with “Communication Impediment” on the backside of the license under restrictions.

Sam is 19 now and just got his first vehicle.

He drives to the nearest community college and to work by himself. He is a good driver but by holding him back a bit (let the emotion catch up) and mapping out a driving route with least potential issues, this hurdle wasn’t so high after all.

by Jennifer Allen

Understanding and Managing Sensory Issues While Driving

Driving with Autism

Every inexperienced driver can get nervous when they first begin to drive. In the case of Aspergers drivers, those nerves jangle even more, as they take in a lot more stimuli in the driver’s seat. Tension arises due to many, and frequently simultaneous, stimuli input.

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These include general anxiety, excessive sunlight, car and traffic noises (i.e. horns honking), bumps, high speed, and excessively high and low temperatures in the car. Any one of these stimuli potentially triggers meltdowns and panic attacks; not ideal when behind the wheel. Fortunately, there are methods to manage and control such stimuli to make them pleasant, instead of unpleasant.

First, allow the Aspergers individual to practice driving while paying attention to the stimuli that s/he finds most unpleasant and pleasant. Then, make a plan to control it all.

Temperature and Light

With regard to stimulus management, simple adjustments often provide the necessary resolutions. For example, climate control adjusts temperature, while sun visors and sunglasses can protect against excessive sunlight and glare.

In the case of night driving, excess light comes in the form of headlights of oncoming vehicles. Looking away and using the road lines helps, as long as the driver pays attention to traffic, signs, and lights as well.

Seatbelt

Preparing the Autistic Driver for the Road: A Look at Motor Skills

Aspergers101 Driving with Autism

Aspergers101 asks the experts about driving safely with Autism. In this blog we focus especially on preparing to drive with motor skill challenges.

Dr. Berenice de la Cruz, Training and Research Director at the Autism Community Network, offers a great overview into the differences of the Autistic brain and how those differences affect the skills it takes to drive.


Dr. Berenice de la Cruz/Training and Research Director/Autism Community Network

There are three structural differences in the Autistic brain. These differences will most likely affect:

  1. motor skills
  2. communication (social) skills
  3. sensory processing

Both fine and gross motor skills are typical challenges for many diagnosed with High Functioning Autism or Asperger’s Syndrome. implicit_learning_hero

So when it comes to learning to drive, or at least considering if driving may be an option, it is imperative to overcome the challenges that can impede safe driving.

Dr. Temple Grandin asserts that if she did not have the ability to drive she would never have been able to visit all of the feed/stock yards to do her prep work for her cattle handling designs. When learning to drive motor skills can be a challenge, especially with multi-tasking, but not impossible to overcome.

Dr. Grandin’s advice is to practice, a lot:

Aspergers Drivers Can Use Their Detail-Oriented Thinking for Challenging Situations

Driving with Autism Series

For the typical driver, it is no problem to carry out the basic modes of driving, such as changing lanes, driving at night, in precipitation, on ice, in fog, off-road, or in heavy traffic. However, the Aspergers driver usually has significant difficulty with any one of these things, if not all of them. Fortunately, there are strategies to overcome all of these obstacles. An Aspergers driver, like any other driver, must get experience because of the countless possibilities for any given scenario. After all, every situation is unique. Yet, even the inexperienced Aspergers driver can get a mind for it all using simplification in techniques. Among these techniques are:

driver

For any situation

  1. Be sure that you do not rely on quick glances or peripheral vision, even though an Aspergers driver’s eyesight may be 20/20. Instead, analyze what you see and be prepared if something or someone moves in front of you (forward) or behind your vehicle (reverse) and do not use the accelerator when just starting to drive unless necessary for reverse movement; keep brake covered as much as possible and come to a complete stop before shifting gears.
  2. Know which window or mirror to use in a given instant
    • Ex: Side mirror + blind spot mirror and looking over your shoulder to change lanes

For lower-visibility situations

At night or during inclement weather:

  1. Do not solely rely on plain judgment if eyesight becomes less dependable; use tricks, such as watching for cars with no headlights on or using the shoulder line technique when oncoming lights are excessively bright;
  2. NEVER stare into any lights at night; it impedes vision;
  3. Know the different colors and flash frequencies of various kinds of lights and combine them with sounds to identify what occurs in a given instant; ex: yellow flashing lights could be tow truck or other work vehicle;
  4. Use high beams, but not to disturb other drivers, pedestrians, or people inside buildings upon which the beams project;
  5. Always use headlights when darkness falls, when street lights come on, in inclement weather, or when use is required by law in a given area;
  6. Use various frequencies of wipers, depending on how much precipitation covers windshield every second; not too slow and not too fast.

These are a few of the many examples of how Aspergers drivers can utilize their own strength of detail-oriented thinking to break down relatively complex driving issues. Such a mindset ensures that the driver does not miss important details that can save many lives.

Learn more about AS101’s “Driving with Autism” here!

Please consider donating to help support this initiative.

DONATE TODAY

drivig-with-autism-decal-with-texas-2

“Driving with Autism” is an Aspergers101 series that educates and empowers the driver diagnosed with High-Functioning Autism or Asperger’s Syndrome. Aspergers101 has teamed up with the Texas DPS in training Texas State Troopers about the uniqueness of Autism and understanding the Autistic driver. This partnership is garnering encouraging results.

by Reese Eskridge

Reese Eskridge

Reese Eskridge is a Production Technician with Fairville Products, who is passionate about working in the sciences (biology) and wishes to take his work experiences further into the fields of Educational Neuroscience; Science Fiction; Freelance Writing; Disability Advocacy; Public Speaking; Leadership and Entrepreneurship. Aspergers101 is proud to offer the insights and perceptions of the talented Mr. Eskridge, who is obviously living life on the spectrum to it’s fullest!

You may contact Reese at: reeseesk@udel.edu

Texas Driver License Now Recognizes Those Who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing

Aspergers101 Exclusive

If you reside in the state of Texas, you are now able to get a restriction code directly on your driver license (or State ID) stating you are hard of hearing or deaf. It’s called Communication Impediment with a Peace Officer and it is available to anyone challenged with communication such as Deafness, Autism, Asperger Syndrome, Parkinson’s, Mild Intellectual Disability, Down Syndrome, Mutism, PTSD and more.

This is the same campaign Aspergers101 initiated over 2 years ago resulting in Texas Legislative changes, however now the campaign is alerting residents statewide of the broader options, notably, the 7% who are hearing impaired.  Emma Faye Rudkin, has graciously accepted the role of spokesperson in our statewide Public Service Campaign now airing throughout Texas. Emma is profoundly deaf since an early age illness but has become a major advocate for those who cannot hear. She is the founder of the non-profit organization Aid the Silent, in 2017 became Miss San Antonio and San Antonio Woman of the Year in the SABJ 2018 class of 40 Under 40.  Her faith in Jesus is her strength and her passion for others drives her onward. She is inspired and inspires. We at Aspergers101 are grateful for Emma’s participation in the Driving with Autism and other Communication Impediments initiative in alerting others of the new driver license code.

The :30 PSA, as seen below, notifies drivers of the code and how it may save them in a pull-over scenario.

Our interview with Emma Faye Rudkin below:

AS101: Why do you think this new Texas DPS code is a good thing for those who are deaf or hard of hearing?

Emma Faye Rudkin: The new restriction code is crucial as a deaf person. My biggest anxiety while driving is being pulled over and unable to understand the officer. This removes a lot of barriers for deaf people and it is clearer than the old code. Officers need to be notified right away as they look at my license instead of me struggling to explain that I am deaf and need help communicating. The new code makes it obvious for the officer at the beginning to understand I cannot hear his instructions and questions.

I read a horrifying story of a deaf man being killed in Oklahoma by a police officer because of miscommunication and not following his instructions. That could happen to any deaf person if 

Unlocking the Potential: A Day with Dr. Temple Grandin

Part 1: Driving with Autism: Luncheon with SAPD

Last week Aspergers101 was proud to host a day of Autism awareness and enlightenment in San Antonio Texas. First we co-hosted a luncheon alongside San Antonio Chief of Police, William McManus regarding the
Driving with Autism statewide initiative. Over 25 law enforcement agencies were represented as well as city officials.  All came together to hear about the new Texas driver license restriction code, Communication Impediment with a Peace Officer and how that may look in a pull-over scenario. Though Dr. Grandin’s plane was delayed, she made her entrance to speak to the officers just as the luncheon drew to a close..a great way to end on a high note!


SA Police Chief William McManus (R) discusses Driving with Autism with Aspergers101 Senior Editor Gabriela Lemos (L)

Jennifer and Samuel Allen present understanding Autism and those with a communication challenge.

Dr. Temple Grandin stands alongside SAPD law enforcement


Jennifer Allen and Samuel Allen presented the impact of the Autistic Brain when encountering drivers displaying the new code. Below lists some of the topics covered to the full house of law enforcement officers:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dr. Temple Grandin spoke on the importance of allowing the person with Autism the time to respond. “A person with a communication impediment is like a computer that slowly scrolls to catch up. You’ve got to allow them time respond when confronted with an officer of the law.”

 

Unlocking the Potential: An Evening with Dr. Temple Grandin

Tickets Now on Sale!

Photo: Matt Nager Photography

It is with great enthusiasm that we will welcome Dr. Temple Grandin to San Antonio and South Texas during Autism Awareness Month, April 19th, for an insightful and encouraging evening titled: Unlocking the Potential. We can hardly wait!

Dr. Grandin will share her personal story and insights on how to prepare for a productive life of independence living with Autism. Attendees will also hear from Chief People Officer Tina James to learn how local industry giant HEB is launching an innovative program that utilizes the talents of those on the spectrum. Mr. Ron Lucey, the Executive Director of the Texas Governor’s Committee on People with Disabilities will open the evening with a message from our state’s capitol.  Asperger101’s Unlocking the Potential will be an evening well spent for those seeking encouragement and concrete guidance for living to the highest potential with Autism and Asperger Syndrome.

We hope you enjoy!     -Aspergers101

Evening Line-Up
5:30p – 6:30p 
VIP Meet and Greet with Temple Grandin, Tina James, and Ron Lucey
 
Hors d’oeuvres in the mezzanine catered by Page Barteau
(VIP Tickets Only)
  • Three cheese stuffed mushrooms topped with panko breadcrumbs
  • Fresh tomato, house pulled mozzarella and basil skewers drizzled with a balsamic reduction
  • Chicken wrapped in bacon and stuffed with jalapeños
  • Beef tenderloin sliders served on a yeast roll with raspberry chipotle
Book signing beginning at 6p
 
6:30p 
Doors open for general admission & continued book signing 
7:00p – 8:45p 
Speaker Presentations:
Jennifer and Samuel Allen
Co-Founders of Aspergers101 and Driving with Autism
  • Evening Co-Hosts
Ron Lucey
Executive Director of the Governor’s Committee on People with Disabilities
  • Equal Access to Independence (How Texas is leading the nation in supporting citizens who have diagnoses that could cause communication impediments with a peace officer on the road)
Gail Saltz, MD (special pre-recorded video)
Clinical Associate Professor of Psychiatry at the New York Presbyterian Hospital Weill-Cornell School of Medicine and a psychoanalyst with the New York Psychoanalytic Institute
  • Pre-recorded video: The Power of Different (Dr. Saltz will not be present but has recorded a special video for the event referring to her latest book, an illuminating and uplifting examination of the link between brain differences and aptitude)
Tina James
Chief People Officer at HEB
  • Bridges: Connecting Extraordinary People to Career Opportunities (Announcing a new program placing college graduates with High-Functioning Autism or Asperger’s in the IS department at HEB)
Temple Grandin, Ph.D.
Inventor and Professor of Animal Science at Colorado State University
  • Diagnosis to Adulthood: Preparing for a Life of Independence (Dr. Grandin’s personal story and guidance in building a life of independence for those with Asperger’s)