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Wednesday, January 11, 2012


Although a significant proportion of teens with higher functioning autism spectrum disorders were driving or learning to drive, the fact that most driving teens' individualized education plans did not include driving goals suggests an area of opportunity for improvement in transition planning. Driving teens were more frequently in regular education settings with college aspirations, which could help schools identify potential drivers.
At PsychCentral, Janice Wood provides some background:
Researchers at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia’s Center for Child Injury Prevention Studies note that the rate of children diagnosed with high-functioning autism spectrum disorder has increased over the past decade, which means that more of these kids are approaching the age to drive legally.
“Little is known about how HFASDs affect a person’s ability to drive safely,” said lead author Patty Huang, M.D., a developmental pediatrician at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP). “Car crashes are the number one cause of death for teenagers, so it is important that we understand how HFASDs impact driving and how to develop appropriate educational and evaluation tools.”
In a first step to better understand the issue, researchers surveyed almost 300 parents of teens with HFASDs and discovered a handful of predictive characteristics among teens who are likely to become drivers, including: Being at least 17 years old; enrolled full-time in high school; planning to attend college; holding a paid job outside the home; having a parent who has taught another teen to drive; and including driving-related goals in his or her individualized education plan (IEP).