Can Autistic People Drive? Yes They Can!

Today we'll break down what the latest research says about autism and driving, as well as helpful driving tips for someone with autism.

steven zauderer
Steven Zauderer
September 20, 2023
min read

Can Autistic People Drive?

Yes, autistic people can drive if they're trained correctly. If you or your child has autism, you may be cautious about the responsibilities that come with driving. However, it's a common misconception that autistic people aren't allowed to drive. If you prepare your child to drive with personalized training, they may be able to safely drive a vehicle.

Can Autistic People Drive?

Driving is a big step for teens and young adults with autism, and it can contribute to the development of the individual, employment opportunities, and social relationships. Consider consulting with your doctor before you or your son or daughter begins learning to drive.

Safety is key when driving, and there aren't any laws against driving with autism. However, it's important to keep in mind that people with autism may struggle to drive more than individuals without autism.

Is It Legal for Autistic People to Drive?

Yes, it’s legal for autistic people to drive. Individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) must pass the same requirements needed to obtain a driver’s license in their state as those who are not on the spectrum. In some cases, it could take longer for people with autism to get a driver’s license.

Strengths Associated with Autism and Driving

Research shows that autistic drivers have certain strengths that most drivers may not possess, including:

  1. Adhering to traffic rules
  2. Desire to strictly adhere to driving rules
  3. Limited risk-taking
  4. Not speeding
  5. Paying close attention
  6. Sharp memory

Factors and Skills that are Involved with Driving

  1. Motor coordination
  2. Pre-planning
  3. Social judgement
  4. Ability to concentrate
  5. Multi-task
  6. Prioritize

Can Someone With High-Functioning Autism Drive?

Yes, someone with high-functioning autism can drive, as long as they receive proper training and they prepare themselves to drive. It's important that the individual with autism is checked by experienced drivers to make sure they are ready to become a driver.

Can Autistic Adults Get A Drivers License?

Yes, autistic people can get a driver's license; they must pass the same requirements needed to obtain a driver's license in their state as those who don't have autism.

How to Know if Your Autistic Child is Ready to Drive

Your autistic teen should first indicate an interest in driving before your pursue formal lessons. If your teen shows engagement, then they have a higher chance of retaining interest in their lessons, which will motivate them to continue learning.

As a parent, you should speak to your child's pediatrician to discuss if it's too early for your teen to start driving. Your doctor will inform you if they feel your son or daughter needs extra support, and will help you obtain helpful therapies before your child reaches driving age.

Also, your teen's current ability to complete self-care tasks on their own is another indication of driver readiness. Such tasks include doing house chores and self-hygiene.

Questions to Ask Your Pediatrician about Driving

Consider asking the following questions to your teen’s pediatrician and other members of their ASD team:

  • Can you recommend any therapies that could help with coordination and executive functioning?
  • Are there any communication issues that could interfere with driving?
  • What are the risks versus benefits of learning to drive right now?
  • How will I know if my autistic teen is ready to learn how to drive?
  • Is there a specific driving school or driving rehabilitation specialist you can recommend?

How to Teach Someone with Autism to Drive: Helpful Tips

If you or a loved one has autism and is learning how to drive, consider implementing the following tips to help you become a responsible and safe driver:

  1. Practice as much as possible during the day and night, and in different types of weather.
  2. Break each skill into small parts to help you master them.
  3. Use repetition for every driving lesson you take.
  4. Prepare for unexpected scenarios on the road.
  5. Use written, verbal or visual scripts prior to each drive.


steven zauderer

CEO of CrossRiverTherapy - a national ABA therapy company based in the USA.

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