Michael hits the road!

MichaelDriving-2


Michael really wanted to learn how to drive. Four years ago, when he became eligible for a driver’s licence, the mere thought of leaving the house triggered anxiety.

There were unmet challenges approaching in Michael’s life yet the feeling of freedom that driving would bring still seemed strong. Michael was determined to begin the process to learn how to drive however his eye test showed he would need to wear suitable visual aids when driving. At this stage his desire to drive deflated a little, but never fully went away.

Michael indicated that the real reason it took him so long to begin this journey was his extreme anxiety. Earlier this year while engaging with one of the Association’s Therapy and Clinical Service’s team, Michael professed one of his goals was to again, take up the challenge of driving.
Thanks to the Association’s ever resourceful TCS team, they were able to recommend the Curtin University Driver Training Package (specifically for learner drivers with Autism) to Michael and his mum. The Curtin research project helps participants learn to drive in ways best suited to each individual’s learning style.
This particular program is also tailored to helping maintain on-road safety.  All of which provided further encouragement to learn how to drive. Michael decided he would go for it. First, the test for his L-plates…

Mindful of maintaining a steady approach, it was decided that Michael could take a ‘practice’ test at the licensing centre. There was no such reason for anxiety – it was only a trial run. Getting to the licensing centre with mum was an ordeal in itself. Although Michael had expressed anxiety about the people conducting the assessment, the process, the crowd and the noise, he was able to work through the test.
The ‘practice’ run proved to be the right strategy. It resulted in a perfect pass 30/30!

Michael has since undergone some of the assessments at Curtin with the real driving lessons yet to commence. In the beginning the aim for researchers was to establish Michael’s learning style through multiple assessments. The program provides an online diary system enabling communication between the driving instructor and the learner driver; the learners are able to share their experiences with the instructors.
There are reaction tests, puzzles to complete at Curtin and some online activities to do at home. While this procedure helps the instructors more fully understand learning styles, it also ensures a more individualised program for every learner with Autism.
The project provides ten free driving lessons.

The Association are delighted with Michael’s progress. His determination and commitment are admirable we look forward to reporting further on his achievements.
Michael provided us with this quote:

“Sometimes you need to go into the unknown and fear to understand who you could be”.

Update – October – Michael has had his first ‘real’ driving lesson and his TCS support said “It went really well, even driving down Leach Hwy!” 

If you would like to learn more about the Autism Association’s therapy services for adults, see:

https://www.autism.org.au/our-services/adults/therapy-services-for-adults/

For further information about the Curtin driver training package, go to:

https://carg.curtin.edu.au/social-inclusion/driving-transport/

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