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  • Writer's pictureCory Morrison

Autism: I Finally Got My Driver's License at 29

Updated: Sep 15, 2023

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Preparing for the Day


On April 3, 2023, I finally achieved the freedom of being able to drive independently after I prepared over a year for the day. 2023 has not been an easy year for me so far for various reasons, but the idea that I achieved something I spent years questioning if I would be able to achieve it because of my disability-related challenges, is huge to me.


Learning to drive a vehicle can be difficult for anyone, but having a disability such as autism can create additional challenges, as noted in my Driving Obstacles for People with Autism post from 2021.


Fortunately, other than anxiety in high-pressure driving situations, not much got in the way with driving for me. As I mentioned in my What Have Driving Lessons Been Like for Me as an Autistic Person?, post from a month ago, I had some minor difficulties. I, fortunately, was able to address these struggles in time for the test.


What Was Test Day Like for Me?


Unfortunately, I got virtually no sleep the night before because the anxiety and anticipation of the test was disturbing me all night. To make it up for it, I made sure I ordered a huge meal from a breakfast restaurant hours before the test, to ensure I can take it on a full stomach. I don't normally eat big morning breakfasts, but I read a review on Google that said that one should never take a driving test on an empty stomach. This stuck with me because at least with me, I feel less productive when I haven't eaten much.


I had an hour-long driving lesson with my instructor before the test. He really pushed me, in a good way, to make sure I was ready for the test. In addition, he set the bar high and addressed every mistake I made. I was getting nervous about reverse parking because I still struggled with it, but my instructor reassured that the examiners care more if one drives safely rather than getting every single move right in reverse or parallel parking.


When the G2 test came, my anxiety skyrocketed, but I managed to play everything cool. My examiner was composed enough that I wasn't particularly worried about whether I would fail or pass the G2 test. I basically made sure everything my driving instructor taught me was plugged into my head while I was doing the required movements.


I also prepared myself for the test by watching a YouTube video with a similar route at least several times, so I easily understood when I should expect important steps such as using four-way stop signs and lane changing. It was almost like I was pretending to watch that video but with hyper focus and taking full control.


I passed my G2 test because I did most things naturally within a 10 to 15-minute timeframe. My examiner said I only needed to work on not slowing down too much when changing lanes. He also noticed that I struggled with the reverse parking movements, but it wasn't a dealbreaker to him because as my instructor said, it's more about driving safe rather than perfecting every tiny parking movement.


Even with my driving test going smoothly, I wasn't fully expecting to pass the test on my first try.


Conclusion


I may have learned to drive over a decade later than most of my peers, but in a way, holding off completely on driving until I was 28 was worth it to me. When I look back to my late high school years, I feel as if my anxiety and other disability obstacles would have been too high to do even the simplest of driving tasks with at least decent capacity. In other words, if I took the G2 test at 16 or 17, I most likely would have had a mental breakdown after my first attempt and at least five attempts at the G2.


For me, it was the slow and steady approach with driving that worked well with me. I didn't rush to do it at a "normal age", I waited until I felt mentally prepared to do so. I also didn't rush to perfect certain things while taking little consideration into other things, I tried to learn all the concepts with my most undivided attention possible, no matter how much longer than usual it took.


Putting all of this together, and my main tips for people anxious about a driving test, not just with autism, but for anyone, is to ensure the following (I encourage one to use this as a checklist, too):

  • A good night sleep

  • A big meal hours before the test

  • Watch YouTube video with expected route if available

  • Listen to instincts about when you're ready and don't rush to learn driving and take a test (16, 20, 25, 30, 40. Age does not matter!)

  • Equal attention to all driving skills and rules, even when you feel you have mastered some already and are struggling with others

  • Some practice outside of the test


To any new drivers reading this, I wish you the best of luck! To more experienced drivers, continue to drive safely on the roads!











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