Search the series of blogs below to learn about the topic of Driving.
Driving, while diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome or HFA, is possible only if the person feels comfortable doing so. There are many forms of transit offered in most cities to allow for some independence. Remember that many of the traits to drive may be learned, with much practice as long as you allow for time and maturity to occur. For more information on getting “Communication Impediment” directly on your Texas ID or driver license, you can read about the Aspergers101 “Driving with Autism” initiative here.
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:
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;
Always wear a seatbelt, no matter what! Make sure that the driver adjusts the strap so that it is not painful or itchy;
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.
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.
“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.
Article by 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!
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.
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 hearing impaired 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
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.”
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
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
Doors open for general admission & continued book signing
7:00p – 8:45p
Jennifer and Samuel Allen
Co-Founders of Aspergers101 and Driving with Autism
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)
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)
As the Aspergers101 “Driving with Autism” initiative sweeps Texas, we are thrilled to have been featured in a news report by Nexstar Broadcasting reporter Wes Rapaport.
AUSTIN (KXAN) — A new public service announcement was unveiled urging drivers with autism to consider applying for a note on their driver’s license that informs law enforcement about potential interaction challenges. The video message informs Texans about the “communication impediment” restriction code.
Samuel Allen, who is on the autism spectrum, said having the marker on his driver’s license feels “like a big safety net,” and makes him more comfortable when he gets in his car.
“If I showed [it] to the officer, they are going to know that I have autism or some kind of impediment that will keep me from communicating properly with the officer,” Allen explained.
Legislation was passed in the last session that took effect in September, allowing brochures and posters highlighting the “communication impediment” code, in large part due to work done by Aspergers101, which Allen’s mother Jennifer founded.
“I’m just a mom of a son with autism that I want him to be protected, and it just happened to be there are open doors to make policy changes that make commonsense,” Jennifer Allen said. She added that she worried about her son being pulled over or having some other need to interact with an officer, and not having the tools necessary to successfully navigate those challenges.
“We can’t rely on other cards and things that they can reach and give to an officer of the law because that could be misconstrued as they’re reaching for a weapon, so if it’s directly on the driver’s license then that is indeed a safety net,” she stated.
Join Aspergers101 as we skate for Autism/Asperger Awareness! Let’s all go to a true San Antonio’s landmark…The Rollercade for one more roll around the rink before school sets in. The nostalgic wooden rink will take you back to a day long gone and owner and USA Sports Roller Hall of Famer, Verna Quaranto will keep it a sensory-friendly skate for our 2-hour designated celebration! 100% of entry fee(s) will be donated to the outreach programs offered through Aspergers101…come see us!
Want 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:
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/
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.
(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.”
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.
“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.”