Auto-tistic Driving School

I just decided to stop wasting my time with those ridiculous driving lessons in manual. I have been learning to drive for the last 14 months now and it has become clear to me that I can’t master the skills of driving in a manual car. I think I am one of the most hapless and unfortunate learner drivers in this country and I wonder why I bother trying for things that I am not capable of achieving. Because I think of myself as a slave of autism yearning to be free from the shackles of political correctness.

My first instructor was a total asshole. I got along with him at first and I found him through my brother’s experience of learning to drive. He was a short tempered stumpy twat who couldn’t even communicate feedback on my driving properly. There were times when he would backchat me in an unprofessional manner by repeatedly asking why I was such a worrier. I couldn’t understand what he was saying to me and when I couldn’t understand him and asked him to tell me what he meant he wouldn’t say. What a waste of space. He was making me more nervous and unable to communicate with his stupid attitude. He even once swore at a driver while we were parked and another occasion he told me that I couldn’t drive at all. It was so bad I dropped out of learning to drive and I was unable to comprehend what to do next. I just couldn’t care about anything anymore. Thankfully that jerk has now retired from teaching drivers and I wouldn’t recommend anyone like that. If you can’t stand a teacher or his practices then don’t complain, just walk away and find someone better. This how companies go broke, they don’t try to be good at what they do.

About a few years later in 2014 I decided to resume learning to drive to get ahead and be mobile. This time round however I had to renew my licence and to do it this time I decided to declare my disability and try learning with an instructor who was friendly. I found one who was good for me who was a nice friendly lady who had a disabled son. This one was better and in comparison to my last instructor was a delightful, warm and intuitive person who knew how to handle disabled drivers. After the lesson and all the practice I did in the car she suggested I look for an automatic instructor instead. I started looking for one a couple of months later.

The problem with autistics who learn to undertake mentally challenging stuff like driving in an manual car is that there is too much to take in for their socially awkward personalities and their mental health conditions. A few weeks ago I read about a documentary on autistic driving schools and I discovered that people with mental health conditions have the ability to drive either way. Some autists can drive as they say in online forums. Among some of these stories that I have read one autist has a strong hypervigilance when driving and had very bad anxiety. One autist learner driver had to travel to a specialist school in Norfolk which used specially adapted cars with automatic controls to test them if they can drive safely. Eventually he got so well prepared at this school he found that he could drive in a manual car and he moved onto driving on public roads. However he felt more comfortable and at ease in an automatic that he decided to stick with an automatic. Autistic drivers and other disabled drivers both physically and mentally disabled have special measures put into their learning almost everywhere from the cars to the location of their tutoring. However for me it is a case of getting access to it at the right time.

When I did my research in Romford and Hornchurch I found too few automatic instructors. One that I found I thought would be just about right but the lessons with her didn’t last very long. After three lessons I found that I had to let her go. She had a relative who had been taking ill and she had to look after him. After that I found myself with no instructor and no lessons and I had to put up with a long waiting list for learning to drive an automatic again. I was convinced that I could drive a manual car if I stuck with it and kept mentally alert enough. So I decided to start all over again and go into driving lessons with Red Driving School. It started off quite well and I managed to get into it really well. However it was quite a lengthy and demanding experience that took far longer than I expected. I had two instructor with this school. One of them took a holiday to Australia to be with his family for over two months and I didn’t fancy waiting that long for another one. So I asked Red for another instructor and I got one who introduced me to the use of a progress card, which my other instructor hadn’t given me. This was getting even more complicated than ever. I was struggling to learn to drive and getting nowhere with any satisfying standards to test standards. I gave up learning with Red when I went to University of East Anglia for two months. Whilst I was there I tried to look for a specialist instructor who taught disabled people. She was good, but her standards were not to my liking so I left her after an introductory lesson.

As I have learnt from my driving experience learning and master the controls is so difficult for me as autist that I have to take so many lessons. This can have an effect on my other life’s missions that some of my other activities suffered. One learner decided to defer learning to drive so that he could concentrate on his A-levels. He drive a manual but his problem was handling the roads and getting into the right lane. A study by Autism Speaks found that adults with autism are likely to get their driving lessons at a late age in life, drive less frequently and put restrictions on their driving. I took up learning to drive at 25 because I didn’t have the social life that the use of a car in my activities. Even if I had my licence by now I probably wouldn’t go that many places because there isn’t much for me to do. One of the key factors to consider for autistic drivers is that their sensory impairments and their abilities to anticipate another driver’s actions coming in their path, motion perception and reaction times makes them vulnerable to other road users. Autistic people such as myself strive to be able to work and live independently as normal people would do and in order to achieve that we must find ways to integrate them into the use of the roads properly.

When I started at University of Essex I decided to take the time to learn to drive around Colchester and hopefully get my driving licence while at university. I had six lessons around the town with an instructor in a manual car from a driving school called Nayland that operated locally. Earlier this week I had a look at how I was progressing and I started to realise how I was doing in driving that was affecting my school work. I also took a look at how much it was costing me and if I was likely to even get to test standards given the amount of work I had put in. I had decided that my time with manual lessons was not worth it anymore. So I decided to ditch it. Now I am focused on learning to get past my pre-undergraduate year at Essex and if there is money in the future I will retake lessons but this time focus on learning using an automatic. It’s simpler, easier and less mentally taxing for someone. Even if it’s less technically challenging that doesn’t mean I am an inferior driver. If in the future when my licence expires and decide to learn to drive manual again then I will go into learning manual and hopefully pass that. All I need is to have the ability to get somewhere for my own convenience, I’m trying to be able to get ahead in the world’s driving elite. Right now let’s get on with learning how to get into business and mastering my shooting skills and my archery skills.

2 comments

  1. I think your awesome Thankyou for your blog on learning to drive. My daughter wants to drive she’s 17 has high end Asperges / autism / Tourette’s / OCD & ODD. I’m definitely going to try her in an automatic for lessons. If she can handle it like you say. My son is 10 severley autistic with bipolar like myself. He’s also a geek genius. I applaud you for putting your course first.
    Don’t give up on driving you will do it one day.
    Good luck in all you do & achieve xx

    • That is good of you to try and see something better in your children. We should teach disabled people how to advance themselves. Not shunt them into a state of idleness where they resemble something of a time when disabled people should not be seen nor heard. Thank You.

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