Only 1 In 3 Autistic Teens Has A Driver's Licence

First Posted: Apr 12, 2017 05:34 AM EDT

In the United States, teens 16 years old and over could drive a car. However, teens with autism could not hit the open road as much. A new research revealed that only about one-third of autistic children can get their own driver's licence.

Allison Curry, a senior scientist at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, said that despite the pros of driving for teens with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), little is known about the rates of actually obtaining the said license. In her study, however, she found that although a substantial number of children with ASD do get a license, only as few as 1 in 3 of teens with ASD but no intellectual disability do so.

WebMD noted that teens on the autism spectrum do not always pursue a driver's license. Nonetheless, this increased mobility and independence can also contribute to their long-term opportunities, including post-high school education, employment or even social involvement. Still, while not all of them get their licenses, most do by the age of 21. There is a 90 percent of those who apply do get their license to drive. Although it seems late, they are only delayed by about nine months, which is not too bad.

According to, driving can be complex for autistic teens and can be quite challenging for them. Patty Huang, a co-author of the study, said that although they are good at following rules, they have subtle impairments that involve their interaction, communication and motor skills. They also lack coordination and the ability to control their emotions, which could be dangerous on the road.

Still, becoming a licensed driver could be an important milestone in their lives, which is why it is necessary for families to make the decision. Parents can learn more by scheduling a doctor's appointment to ask about specific driving concerns or getting a driving teacher who has been trained in working with teens who have special needs.

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