The diagnosis of an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is not necessarily a barrier to holding a driving licence. If you qualify for the Enhanced Rate Mobility Component of Personal Independence Payment (PIP), you can use this award to lease a Motability Scheme car. Here is some information on driving with autism and how the Motability Scheme can help you.
Getting your driving licence
You must tell the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) or Driver & Vehicle Agency (DVA) Northern Ireland if your disability affects your ability to drive safely. Initially, the first person to discuss this with is your GP who will have access to the DVLA guidelines for people with a disability and will be able to go through these with you to find out if you can take the next steps.
Barriers to holding a licence for people with autism might include a history of epilepsy, perceptual problems, difficulties with multi-tasking, poor motor control or dyspraxia, and problems with sequencing. You may also need to find your own workaround for difficulties with communication. However, it’s important to know that none of these are an absolute barrier to getting your driving licence!
When you’re learning to drive with autism, there is lots of support out there for you. There are driving instructors who specialise in teaching people with disabilities. You may also find it useful to chat to other people with autism about driving in online forums such as the online community and forums run by the National Autistic Society.
There are driving instructors who specialise in working with people with disabilities
What driving can do for you
Having a car can give you easier access to a job, a work scheme, college, training or a day centre. It also saves you having to rely on friends or family for lifts or using taxis and public transport. Once you’ve got used to having your own car and become accustomed to driving it whenever you want, it could even boost your confidence in other areas of your life.
Driving a car can also be a very enjoyable hobby in itself, aside from being able to get yourself to the activities you like to do such as exercising or going to the cinema.
And you can even make a career out of it! There are some driving instructors in the UK who themselves have autism. Julia Malkin battled autism to become the country’s most qualified driving instructor. Her story was told in the BBC Three programme Autistic Driving School shown in 2010.
Julia says driving is enormously helpful if you have autism because it boosts sense of self. She explains: “We need confidence and ability to achieve more than typical people do. That is because our self esteem is naturally weak because of our communication difficulties. Driving does help to resolve that kind of thing by giving us the ability to believe in ourselves.”
Harry Debling, who was diagnosed with autism at 18 months, set up his own driving school to show people with autism can overcome barriers to achieve their goals. “I want to show autistic people in a positive light. It’s not all doom and gloom. There are many different levels of the spectrum and a lot of autistic people with the help and support they get can succeed,” he says.
How the Motability Scheme can help
The Motability Scheme makes leasing a car an easy, hassle-free experience. With the Scheme, you can exchange part or all of your mobility allowance to lease a car for three years and, once the three years are over, if you decide to remain on the Scheme, you can choose another vehicle.
Insurance for up to three named drivers, maintenance and breakdown cover is already included in the price you pay. The Motability Scheme specialist at your choice of dealership will take care of any paperwork and place the order for you, and you’re supported by the Scheme throughout the lease.
Am I eligible?
You can find out if you are eligible for the Motability Scheme using our eligibility checker. The next step after that is making an appointment to visit a Scheme specialist at your nearest dealer to pick out and test drive cars. You can prepare for your visit in advance using our handy dealer visit checklists which should help you narrow down your options.
If you’d like to find out more about the Scheme, request an information pack below and we’ll send you all the information that you need to make the right choice.
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