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Tuesday, April 30, 2024

Autistic Youths, Healthcare Providers, and Driving

Myers, R.K., Labows, C., McDonald, C.C. et al. Preparing to “Live a Life of Possibilities”: Experiences of Healthcare Providers Readying Autistic Adolescents and Their Families for Independent Driving. J Autism Dev Disord (2024).
Autistic adolescents and their families may experience barriers to transportation, including independent driving, which is critical to supporting quality of life and engagement in social, educational, and employment opportunities. Healthcare providers may feel unprepared to provide guidance to autistic adolescents, although they are among the professionals families turn to for guidance. This study describes providers’ experiences supporting autistic adolescents and families in the decision to pursue licensure and identifies barriers experienced in providing support. We conducted interviews with 15 healthcare providers focused on how they support autistic adolescents and their families in navigating topics related to independence, driving, and transportation. Key themes identified included: importance of understanding adolescents’ perspectives and motivations, approaches to readying caregivers for children to pursue driving, and role of providers in fostering agreement between adolescents and caregivers. Results reflect healthcare providers as intermediaries between autistic adolescents and caregivers making the decision to pursue licensure and bring families to consensus. Our findings emphasize the importance of healthcare providers, in collaboration with community-based providers, in supporting autistic adolescents and their families considering licensure. Improving conversations between providers and families provides opportunity to better support quality of life among autistic adolescents and their caregivers navigating the transition to independence.