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.
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.
Dr. Louise O’Donnell/UTHSC : Part 1
Things to remember when you are pulled over:
- Do not panic (deep breaths)
- Do not get out of your vehicle
- Wait for the officer to approach you
- Roll down your window and listen to what the officer tells you to do
- Keep your hands on the steering wheel
- Be polite
- Wait for the officer to tell you what to do (get your license/proof of insurance) then do it
- Sign the appropriate form if the officer tells you to do so
Dr. Louise O’Donnell/UTHSC : Part 2
Driving is not always an option for those with Autism, however if you or someone you know is interested in being behind the wheel, practice a pull-over in order to ease the stress associated with driving and the fear many have (neuro-typical and autistic alike) from imagining the encounter. In this case the phrase, practice makes perfect comes to mind and most definitely applies for a smoother outcome.
by Jennifer Allen
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