To be able to steer a car, concentrate, judge distance, use both hands and feet together and remember how to carry out a sequence of tasks all at the same time is very daunting. It is hardly surprising that many of us who have dyspraxia decide that driving a car is beyond our capabilities. However, social pressures and work commitments may compel us to at least give driving a try.
There is some help available for learner drivers with co-ordination difficulties. A number of assessment centres throughout the country offer information and advice to drivers who have a disability and assess them in a safe environment to establish their capabilities. Please contact The Forum of Mobility Centres www.mobility-centres.org.uk for further advice. The staff at these Mobility Centres are very helpful and are used to working with people with poor concentration and perceptual and spatial awareness problems.
Some driving schools, such as the British School of Motoring offer courses which cater for specialist needs. Some of the BSM’s branches have driving simulators with geared cars, on which you can build your confidence before you take to the open road.
Before you choose a driving school, shop around and ask questions. Only you know what your difficulties are. It is up to you to make a prospective instructor aware of them. You may be able to track down an instructor who has taught people with disabilities, who is patient and has the experience to teach techniques that will help you to learn.
- Try to learn in an automatic car. Less co-ordination is needed and there is less to think about.
- When taking the test, ask for extra time to complete the written section if you think you need it.
- Have extra wing mirrors fitted for easier parking and reversing.
- Larger, higher-mounted steering wheels are easier to use.
- Mark the right side of the steering wheel with a sticker to help you to remember which side is right and which is left.
- Plan and prepare your journey as much as possible before you set out. Write down the directions and clip them to the dashboard.
- If you have map reading problems, reverse maps can help and/or computer navigation systems.
- Take frequent breaks if you find concentration difficult.
Forum of Mobility Centres www.mobility-centres.org.uk or telephone the National Forum Enquiry Line: 0800 559 3636
For information about concessions on the theory test, useful books, CDs and videos; contact Drive Safe, the special needs team at the Driving Standards Agency, tel 0870 01013721
This is an excerpt from the chapter Organising Yourself in the Dyspraxia Foundation Adult Support Group’s book, Living with Dyspraxia: A guide for adults with developmental dyspraxia available from the Foundation, price £12.99 + £1.50 p&p Issue Date: 5/12/01