Driving can be an anxiety-inducing event for many people. Neurodiverse individuals, particularly those with autism, tend to experience heightened levels of anxiety when driving, especially when it’s time to take their driving exam. As a result, many capable adults with autism avoid pursuing their driver’s license due to overriding anxiety. The DRIVE Program – a blend of virtual and hands-on driving experience -- helps prepare atypical learners for a successful driving exam.
The Immersive Virtual Driving Experience
The program uses fully immersive virtual reality technology to provide students with an experience that simulates a driving exam. Students receive immediate feedback related to various driving scenarios in which they participate through a computer-simulated instructor. In addition, a trained behavioral analyst who is present for the session will help guide students through each scenario while paying careful attention to their levels of stress and anxiety. Alongside the VR experience, students will work with a behavioral analyst to learn the rules of the road through a tailored course curriculum.
The Behind-the-Wheel Experience
Once the individual student is ready, they will work with an instructor from a local driving school. Our driving school partners have received specialist training to work with neurodiverse students to promote their success and reduce their anxiety. Accompanied by the instructor, the student will practice driving in a safe and controlled setting.
The Driver’s License Test
When the student and instructor agree that the time is right, the instructor will accompany the student for their behind-the-wheel driving test.
Interested in Finding Out More?
If you already have your driving Learner’s Permit, please take our Expression of Interest survey to help us get to know more about you. Once completed, we can determine whether you will be eligible for the program.
To find out more about the DRIVE program, please contact the program lead, Dr. Christina Potter at DriveProgram@nicklaushealth.org.