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Simulation Training Poised to Transform Driving School for Students With Autism Spectrum Disorder

For many, learning to drive is a gateway to independence and freedom, but the road to a license isn’t always a smooth one – especially for teens with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Varying abilities to process information and make decisions mean that traditional driver training might be less effective for those with ASD. The good news is that, while driving hasn’t changed much over the years, the classroom has continued to evolve with technology. With advancements such as simulation training no longer stuck in the realm of science fiction, students with ASD are finding better ways to learn.

Approximately 1 in 3 teens with ASD are getting their licenses by age 21, according to a recent study. And in a survey conducted with 297 parents of teens with ASD, 63% of the parents said their teen was already driving or planned to drive. Researchers have found that by incorporating driving simulators into the standard curriculum for driver training, youth with ASD can improve their driving ability and identify areas that may require a little more focus. Simulation training is typically self-paced and allows the student to progress from simple scenarios to more complex environments.

Another study revealed that there is great potential in the effectiveness of using driving simulators in helping high-functioning drivers with Autism improve basic driving skills. The authors understand that ASD can affect learning to varying degrees, so it’s important to find methods of training that help address specific concerns. Traditional methods used in driving school need to be updated, and simulation training is here to help teens with ASD learn in a safe environment and feel secure behind-the-wheel.

Simulation training provides unique benefits for those with Autism Spectrum Disorder:

  • Assessment
  • Repetition and Practice
  • Self-Paced Curriculum
  • Controlled Environment
  • Verbal and Visual Cues

These unique features help not only the students with ASD, but also the driving schools who train them. Simulation allows driving schools to assess which students are ready for behind-the-wheel training and which would benefit from further practice. The potential for independent driving will vary because every ASD diagnosis is different, but driving schools will see results that could only come from these updated learning modalities.

Virtual Driver Interactive has been helping driving schools address the needs of future drivers on the Autism spectrum with the use of driving simulators. The simulators include several assessment drives, along with an unlimited amount of practice on lessons with varying complexity. The simulator allows the students to work at their own pace while keeping track of areas where they may struggle. This allows the driving school to identify areas of concern and provide additional practice and instruction in those skill sets. Getting a driver’s license is a goal that shouldn’t be out of reach for anyone, and simulation training allows us to empower new drivers and make the road safer and easier for all. 

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