Teens with ASD: Driving

November 9th, 2015

The future depends on what we do in the present. - Mahatma Gandhi

For most teenagers, driving a car is a rite of passage; many are eager to get their licenses. Unfortunately, not all kids with ASD can operate a car safely. It can be difficult to explain to higher-functioning kids that driving is not a right, it’s a privilege, and that being behind the wheel of a 3,000-pound killing machine is a very serious thing.

The law varies a little by state, but one thing is consistent – you must report that your teen has an ASD to the Department of Motor Vehicles when applying for a license. It will not disqualify the teen for a license, but failing to report it can mean revocation of the license. You must also notify the driving test instructor before your teen takes the test.

Car insurance rates cannot be affected by an ASD diagnosis, but if a disability affects your teen’s safety record (more accidents or violations), then their insurance rates will go up, just like any driver without a disability.

Adults with ASD have said they find it beneficial to tape a paper to their driver’s license that says, “I have an autism spectrum disorder and may not understand questions asked verbally,” or something similar, so that if they are pulled over, they can convey to the police officer that they are not under the influence or intentionally not following commands.

Remember that OVR can provide driving evaluations and pay for driving lessons if need be.

In some areas, it’s possible to find driving instructors who specialize in teaching student drivers with ASD. They are relatively common in the UK; less so in the United States. Search online to identify options in your area.

Related Teenagers with ASD Articles

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Teens - Self-Advocacy and Self-Esteem

Teens - Keeping Your Teen Safe

Teens - Transition IEPs

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Teens - Driving

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