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Learning to Drive May Be More Difficult for Young Adults with ASD

Date Published: 
June 18, 2018

A new study suggests that young adults with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) "may have more difficulty learning basic driving skills than peers, particularly in the early stages of driver training."1 The study, by researchers at Drexel University and Nationwide Children's Hospital, compared 50 young adults with autism to 50 typically-developing peers in driving tests, using a virtual-reality simulator. (The participants were ages 16 to 26.)

Each group contained young adults with different levels of driving experience, such as no experience, having a driver's permit, or having a driver's license. Unlicensed drivers with ASD had more difficulty with speed and lane management than other unlicensed drivers. "Individuals with ASD may benefit from a slow and gradual approvate to driving training," the researchers concluded.1

When examining only those who had driver's licenses in both groups, researchers found the people with autism drove similarly for "most tasks" as their peers without autism.


  1. Patrick, K. E., Hurewitz, F., McCurdy, M. D., Agate, F. T., Daly, B. P., Tarazi, R. A., . . . Schultheis, M. T. (2018). Driving comparisons between young adults with autism spectrum disorder and typical development. Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics : JDBP, doi:10.1097/DBP.0000000000000581 [doi]