Learning to drive is sort of a right of passage for teenagers. It’s somewhat of a defining moment that most teens simply can’t wait to experience.
That said, what happens when your teenager is on the Autism Spectrum?
We had to face that very question when it came to our oldest, Gavin, who turned 16 this past January. In Gavin’s case, there really isn’t much of a choice to be made but a discussion took place nonetheless.
The short answer is that Gavin will never be able to legally be behind the wheel of a car. There really isn’t any chance of that happening for a number of reasons.
There are physical, neurological and emotional reasons that he would never be able to safely operate a motor vehicle. These are all things outside of his control but as his parents, we have to consider not only his safety but also the safety of everyone else.
Even if he wasn’t medically restricted, I couldn’t in good conscience, ever allow him to take on that responsibility.
Thankfully, he has absolutely no interest in driving and never has. That’s made this significantly easier from my perspective. At the same time knowing that it’s something he won’t be able to do, is really sad because it’s a huge piece of independence that will never be attained.
At the end of the day, safety is all that really matters. Safety and Gavin behind the wheel of a car, is the very definition of mutual exclusivity.
Have you had to make a similar decision for your child with Autism or special needs? What went into making your decision and what was the main factor in the decision you made? How did your teen react and how did you explain it to them?