Having an Asperger’s Syndrome diagnosis does not dampen the enthusiasm of a person who wants to learn how to drive, Autism Daily Newscast explored the possibility of getting a licence in a series of articles which can be found here.
Thirteen years ago, occupational therapist, and driving instructor Miriam Monahan had an idea. This idea has now developed into what could be one of the most revolutionary iPad apps for teaching a young person with Asperger’s Syndrome to drive; DriveFit.
DriveFit is the first app of its kind to allow youngsters learning to drive. Ms Monahan said:
“I would see young people coming in and wanting to learn to drive with all sorts of impairments, from brain injury to physical disability and also older people with a variety of difficulties to overcome. It was my job to ensure they were fit to drive. It was around 2000 when some parents with Asperger’s teenagers approached me with the idea.
“With being an occupational therapist, I understood how individuals on the autistic spectrum could have difficulty in driving, and be sometimes overwhelmed by the stimulus they would encounter on the road. It was my job to teach them how to prioritise what they saw.”
The app itself combines real time videos of drives, and indicates clearly and concisely for a learner driver where the dangers are. Miriam explains:
“We use visual stimulus in the visual search to teach a person with Asperger’s to help them prioritise their attention. For example a stop sign will be far more important than a pedestrians walking along the sidewalk.”
The app even has difficulty levels, and speed settings, so if the visual stimulus is too much for the learner driver whilst driving at 35 mph, they can slow it down to 25, until they feel confident enough to respond to individual stimuli.
Pre-orders of the app are available in the USA, which contains a test drive on the app and a bumper sticker, and the app itself comes with a tutorial on building road safety skills.
Plans are in the pipeline to film new videos for countries who drive on the left, and once the desired funding is attained, this app could revolutionise the way that driving is taught to anyone on the spectrum.
A full interview with Ms Monohan will be available in Autistic Spectrum Digest next month. Download your app here.