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.

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.

49 SU1HXzIxMDEuanBn

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.

Aspergers and Drivers Ed: The Options Available to You

Driving with Autism in Texas

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.

Preparing the Autistic Driver: 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

Tips for the Aspergers Driver When Being Pulled Over by an Officer

AS101 Driving with Autism

For many with Autism a fear of driving stems from anxiety that can result from being pulled over by an officer of the law. In some cases, fear of just that very scenario is the reason many never pursue obtaining their driver’s license.

pull over, police officer

Good communication skills and actions are key to making an already stressful situation go without incident for anyone, but with the diagnosis of autism, Aspergers, or speech impediments misinterpretation is almost a certainty. Dr. Louise O’Donnell, who specializes in Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychology at UT Health Science Center in San Antonio Texas, offers suggestions to make a ‘pull-over’ go without incident.

We Need Your Help to Fund Our Statewide Driving with Autism Initiative

conference img 3Want to be a part of something big? Aspergers101 has come so far with our Driving with Autism initiative. Now we need to get the word out about the opportunities available for Texas drivers with Autism, and we need your help.

We’re raising funds for the awareness of the new Texas “Driving with Autism” initiative! This program informs and trains law enforcement on best practices for handling people with a Communication Impediment such as Autism, Aspergers, brain injury, Parkinson, deafness and in some cases, Down Syndrome.

Your contribution will help us place these informative brochures and posters into every high school, library, and Autism organization across the state. 100% of the funds raised will go toward printing and mailing costs. We have come so far but we are on our own in funding these crucial resources.

If you believe in what we do and would like to help Aspergers101 in our groundbreaking Driving with Autism initiative, please consider donating today.

To make a contribution go to our Facebook fundraiser:

https://www.facebook.com/donate/10207220018280772/

or our donation page:

Donate

A note from our founder and president, Jennifer Allen:

My son, Sam, has a form of High Functioning Autism called Aspergers Syndrome. We embarked on a program to help those with Autism and other communication impediments drive without fear from a law enforcement encounter. The Texas DPS responded by stepping up and providing “Communication Impediment with a Peace Officer” directly on your driver license or Texas ID.

In addition, we have teamed up to provide new Texas Trooper Recruits training when encountering those with Autism. It’s working! We are now in production for video reenactments showing what “Autism” may look like in a pull over situation. These will be made available to law enforcement state-wide!

Now we have brochures and posters outlining how to get the new driver license restriction code, as well as informative tips from Autistic expert, Dr. Temple Grandin. These will be distributed to High Schools and education centers (free) statewide.

We need help in raising funds for video production for Texas Trooper training, as well as printing and distribution of the posters and brochures statewide. For these costs we are on our own. For more information on the “Driving with Autism” program, including a full video of our announcement from the Texas State Capitol Press Room please go to: https://aspergers101.com/media/

Thank you!

Initiatives to Help Texas Drivers with Communication Challenges

April Press Release

image003

FOR IMMEDIATE DISTRIBUTION PRESS RELEASE
April 25, 2016 Media and Communications Office

Initiatives to Help Texas Drivers with Communication Challenges

AUSTIN – The Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS), along with the Texas Governor’s Committee on People with Disabilities and Aspergers101, today announced initiatives designed to assist Texans who have communication impairments. In an effort to facilitate effective communication, DPS first reminded Texans of the communication impediment option that drivers may select to be reflected on their driver licenses/ID cards.

IMG_8242

(L to R) Mr. Joe Peters/Asst Director Texas DPS Driver License Division, Major Jason Hester/Texas DPS Education, Training Division, Jennifer Allen/CEO Aspergers101, Samuel Allen/Aspergers101 and speaking, Mr. Ron Lucey/Executive Director Texas Governors Committee on People with Disabilities.

DPS also announced that it has recently coordinated with Aspergers101 to allow them to provide training and education to DPS officers about autism spectrum disorders, other disabilities and potential communications challenges associated with those disorders. In addition, the department announced that it is working with Aspergers101 to develop a Driving With Autism camp that will help increase driver confidence and practical skills.

“At DPS, our mission is to serve and protect the people of Texas,” said DPS Assistant Director for the Driver License Division Joe Peters. “This optional notice on the driver license and ID card puts important information in the hands of our law enforcement officers, which will help them better serve and protect individuals with a communication impediment.”

DPS boosts Training on How to Deal with Drivers with Autism

by Samantha Ketterer- Houston Chronicle

The Texas Department of Public Safety will begin training officers on how to interact with people with autism, one of several initiatives the agency announced Monday to help with traffic stops involving motorists with communication difficulties.

The agency also will expand the definition of “communication impediment,” a notation that appears on driver licenses if a person chooses. The notation previously was aimed at protecting deaf people, but now will be available for those on the autism spectrum.

Maj. Jason Hester, of the DPS Education, Training and Research Division, said the department did not see a specific need for the program before being approached by Aspergers101, an advocacy group on the communication impediment.

“We don’t have any documented incidents,” Hester said. “However, we just think that it was a great initiative to have the additional information, to have that out there. We have a responsibility to provide for a safer Texas.”

Samuel Allen, who is 21 and has autism, said people with communication impediments may not understand figures of speech and could react to a police officer in a way that he could see as disrespectful.

conference img 3“Learning to drive can be a very scary concept, and especially moreso if you have high-functioning autism or Aspergers,” said Samuel Allen, the son of Aspergers101 founder Jennifer Allen. “I feel protected knowing that ‘communication impediment’ is printed on my driver’s license.”

Aspergers101 also is collaborating with the agency in providing “Driving with Autism” summer camps to help people with communication difficulties learn how to drive and interact with police officers.

Ron Lucey, executive director of the Governor’s Committee on People with Disabilities, voiced his support for the initiatives, saying they can help people with autism be more “transportation independent.”

Announcing: “Driving with Autism” Texas Decal

Order yours today!

The Autism community is a tight-knit group. We grieve together, learn together, fight together and celebrate together…that’s just how we roll! Great strides in Texas have been made recently educating law enforcement on Autism and other communication impediment disorders. Through the Aspergers101 “Driving with Autism” initiative, Texas Trooper Recruits are being trained specifically for understanding the autistic traits they may encounter such as delayed response, coping mechanisms and nervous ticks during a typical pull-over. This coupled with the Driver License Restriction Code, Communication Impediment with a Peace Officer available directly on the Driver License or Texas ID will soon set the stage for other states to follow.

Maybe you are driving and have Autism, Aspergers or other challenges with communication and want this to be recognized, or perhaps you are a parent, relative, friend or supporter of someone who does…either way…Aspergers101 is proud to offer the official “Driving with Autism” decal for your vehicle!drivig-with-autism-decal-with-texas-2

Offered as either a magnet or vinyl decal, this full-color decal is a generous 6 inches in diameter. Best yet, all proceeds go to support the free “Driving with Autism”printed materials (brochures, posters, booklets) offered to schools, libraries and autism organizations throughout the great State of Texas. You can order here: Driving with Autism Decal

How a community designed our logo

Ever hear of the brilliant eco-artist, Grant Manier? Grant and his amazing Mom (talk about a supportive parent) Julie M Coy suggested a car decal for our “Driving with Autism” initiative. Grant got to work and offered us the artwork that established the foundation for our final product. Julie continued supporting and lending her efforts until a final design was voted on by you our readers and supporters! Overwhelming response with differing opinions and suggestions which formed our final logo! Thank you for your involvement and we at Aspergers101 will continue to work on behalf of our Autism Community…in Texas and beyond!

-Jennifer Allen/Founder Aspergers101

EPSON MFP image

by: Eco-Artist Grant Manier

Julie M Coy, Grant Manier

To see more of Grant Manier’s amazing work, go to: Artwork by Eco-Friendly Artist Grant Manier

New Drivers License Restriction Code for Autism? It’s in the works!

Whether to drive with High Functioning Autism or Aspergers Syndrome is as individual a question as is the person. For many there is no interest in obtaining a drivers license as public transportation more than serves the purpose. For others, the heightened sensory issues and accompanying ADD make driving an almost dangerous venture. However, for those truly wanting the independence that driving can bring but fear the strong potential for communication mis-understanding with a law enforcement officer….we may have some good news that’s on the horizon!

Sam DL backsideIn the United States, the Department of Motor Vehicles or Department of Transportation policies varies from state to state.  Though many countries/states have various polices in place concerning driving with an impairment or disability, it’s not enough….we need more.

My son Sam (age 20) and I reside in the State of Texas and presented a plan that would notify law enforcement, through a drivers license restriction, of autism in an individual. A newly assigned restriction code would alert an officer of the law that this person has Autism and is wired differently: most likely not understanding sarcasm, social cues nor respond well to threats or loud sounds. The restriction “Communication Impediment with a Peace Officer” is available through Texas DPS.

As it stands today, if you live in the State of Texas (hopefully other states will soon follow suit) here are the steps you need to take to get this protective/restriction code on your drivers license.

Adding Communication Impediment to y
our driver license is simple:

1) Have your physician complete and sign
a Physician’s Statement Form (DL101) affirming the autism diagnosis. 

2) Visit your local driver license office for
a driver license application (DL14A/S). Be sure and complete Line 7 (or like the Texas Veterans Commission, you could extract the line from the form for emphasis)

For all Texas Driver License forms go to www.dps.texas.gov/DriverLicense