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This diary is part of a continuing series documenting the experiences of someone diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome. If you want to start from the beginning, click here.
Hello everyone. As you all know I've been interning as a GIS Tech with my county's Natural Resources Department, and despite enjoying my position, it'll be ending in just over a month. It is something I dread, because I'll be right back at square one. I'll explain a bit more below.

You see, despite the fact that I have as many skills as I do, I can't get full time work. The reason why is obvious: Since I don't have a license, I can't operate a full size vehicle. Still, despite my challenges, I've become the top GIS Tech in my department. I've shown the people there what I can do, yet sometimes it feels like it's all for nothing, because despite their support, I lack experience and a driver's license so when it comes to applying for a lot of county jobs I know I can do, I'm basically out of the running simply for not having a license.

My boss suggested I try going for a restricted license, but I wouldn't know how to go about getting one..I guess I should stop running from the inevitable and at least see if it's doable. The main reason I don't drive in the first place is because no one in my immediate family had the patience to teach me.

So I have to ask, is there a way someone like me could get driving lessons? It certainly would help because public transit in my county sure is laughable. It's funny, because it feels like neither sector wants anything to do with me for various reasons, and I'm all out of ideas. So advice is certainly welcome.



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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (28+ / 0-)

    I write a series called 'My Life as an Aspie', documenting my experiences before and after my A.S. diagnosis as a way to help fellow Aspies and parents of Aspies and spread awareness. If I help just one person by doing this, then I've served a purpose.

    by Homer177 on Mon Dec 10, 2012 at 02:23:36 PM PST

  •  Y'know, I had this problem as well... (20+ / 0-)

    ...I didn't learn to drive on my mother's car during the "traditional" late adolescent period, and then when I really needed to learn, darned if there was anybody on hand who felt like letting me trash their car in the process of learning to drive.

    Dilemma was solved by marrying a woman with a car, but as a pure driver-education solution that's a tad extreme ;)

    As a fellow Aspie I heartily encourage you to learn to drive, along with whatever coping mechanisms you need to deal with the associated stress -- I will not pretend that driving is always a nonstressful, nonharrowing experience for folks like us. However, the benefit of freedom and independence that being a licensed driver brings is more than worth the stress and anxiety.

    In (98% of) the USA, either one can drive or one is more or less a prisoner in one's home; don't let yourself be relegated to the latter because someone told you Aspies can't drive.

    Visit Lacking All Conviction, your patch of grey on those too-sunny days.

    by eataTREE on Mon Dec 10, 2012 at 02:34:23 PM PST

  •  Wonder if "driving simulators" might help... (5+ / 0-)

    I was (finally!) dx'd HFA/AS in 1994, at age 46.  I've had my driver's license since age 17 (except for a hiatus early on).  My experience is that the social aspect of driving is more demanding of my attention than the mechanics: imperfect communication, turn-taking in ambiguous right-of-way situations, the occasional overfocus on others' imperfect behavior.  Thus the more practice I have on the mechanics, the more quasi-instinctive that aspect of driving becomes, leaving me freer to analyze the flow of situations as they occur.  Perhaps there are driving simulators which might help with that?

    In any event, driving seems amenable to a systems approach, and striving for a blend of correctness and efficiency can take a lot of the ego out of it... and being (if you will) ego-driven can have a lot of undesirable consequences.

    •  Follow the rules of the road. People who attempt (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      to be polite and sociable by stopping and gesturing for you to turn in front of them or otherwise go when it's 'not your turn' only screw up the traffic patterns for the rest of us. The thing I hate most is this new idea of 4-way stop signs. And you don't have to be an Aspie to get frustrated, befuddled and angry while driving! But again, there are very specific rules that you will not go wrong by following.

      Do make it simpler for yourself- don't have a cell phone on, don't listen to the radio unless it relaxes you, keep a snickers bar around...whatever makes things okay when you have to focus in front of people. I personally get along very well with people at a customer service job and in daily life, but when a group needs a driver I hide because I'm not the one.

      •  New idea of 4 way stop? (2+ / 0-)

        I'm guessing you didn't grow up in New England. LOL! Between those, the ubiquitous rotaries, and nonsensical pattern of one-way streets, it's a challenge for non-aspies to drive here!

        •  I am in New England- in SW NH where we didn't even (0+ / 0-)

          have street signs until the 9-1-1 people insisted...

          Recently rotaries have been coming to nearby cities like Keene. Hateful things I think. I'd rather sit and wait for my designated turn than try to guess how it's going to work when some of the rotary exits are actually figure-8s that make traffic criss-cross each other. The one I'm thinking of was only open 45 minutes before they had their first accident and now I see red and orange plastic on the road there a lot...

          Anyway, 'our town' has a main st that is .7 of a mile long and 96 feet wide. Everybody here knows the local pattern and the traffic works very well if everybody does it. Our only problem is that at the rush times, people just passing through refuse to slow down and insist on passing on the right, not realizing that the reason traffic is stopped is for the people (especially school kids) crossing in the crosswalks!
              So somebody had the bright idea to get a D.O.T. grant to hire an expensive contracting firm to come in and solve the problem. As far as I could see, the simple solution was to post a policeman twice a day at either end of this not even 3/4 mile street to force people to follow the rules and to protect the children (which is more or less what happens now anyway).
              The big important designers held a public meeting and brought their suggestion of not one, but three rotaries (in seven tenths of a mile) "in order to slow down traffic." One of them was even supposed to be in front of the Fire Department...
               Luckily they had made a huge map of what it would look like and they left it with us in the library for a couple weeks. I got some matchbox cars and spent some time demonstrating to people how if you wanted to go to both the bank and the grocery store in the same trip you would have to go round and round at least two out of three rotaries just to get to the other side of the street.
               The firm also managed to have a plan that put tiny little curbs in various places (to keep people from reverting to the former, well-worn traffic pattern) but they had not considered what we do in town for snow removal. In NH. By a NH architecture firm. When I raised my hand and asked how they planned to handle snow they stopped taking questions.
               When I asked where the money for the study came from and couldn't we have used it to fix Rte 12A instead, before we make the national news when a school-bus lands in the river (G-d forbid!) they said they were sorry but the D.O.T. funds were for planning only and couldn't be used for actual work.
               So anyway, the more things change the more they stay the same, my Dad always says. Now we still have the same traffic, a few less problems with a little more policing, and Rte12A is still crumbling into the river.

  •  Driving lessons... (11+ / 0-)

    My other half took driving lessons through Voc Rehab of Georgia. So you may want to check with your local Voc Rehab or maybe the Independent Living Center near you? I know there are programs out there that specialize in teaching the differently abled to drive, it really depends where you live which ones would be near you. But the ILC near you would have that information at the very least and so would Voc Rehab.

    "Madness! Total and complete madness! This never would've happened if the humans hadn't started fighting one another!" Londo Mollari

    by FloridaSNMOM on Mon Dec 10, 2012 at 02:44:32 PM PST

    •  Wish I could've rec'd this twice (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      FloridaSNMOM, Wee Mama, BlackSheep1

      Once for the content, and once for the Babylon 5 quote :-)

      The ability to drive made it possible for me to tape B5 seasons 3 and 4 remotely in my car, when they were no longer broadcast locally.  It felt a little like a weekly pilgrimage...

    •  Good advice, FloridaSNMOM. Are there (4+ / 0-)

      driving schools in your area?

      I got my learner's permit at 15, as soon as I could do so because my parents needed me to drive my younger brother to school. They signed me up for two rounds of driver's ed courses because I didn't quite pick it up the first time. Still, growing up in a place where everyone drove and kids, myself included, practiced off-road at the age of 12 helped.

      •  I'm sure there are, I haven't looked locally (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Youffraita, Wee Mama

        myself yet. My son isn't ready, he has some issues to work out. Dad it was decided didn't have the vision for it, and his vision has only gotten worse since then. He's legally blind now, so no driving for him.

        "Madness! Total and complete madness! This never would've happened if the humans hadn't started fighting one another!" Londo Mollari

        by FloridaSNMOM on Mon Dec 10, 2012 at 04:01:18 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  I would teach you if I lived closer (4+ / 0-)

    so unless you're in the general Western Washington area (state that is) I'll have to settle for cheering you along.

    Keep in mind, plenty of people stupider then you have learned to drive. You can learn to drive.

    •  That's just it. (4+ / 0-)

      Drivers in Florida in general are just plain nuts. I don't see how a lot of people down here have licenses.

      I write a series called 'My Life as an Aspie', documenting my experiences before and after my A.S. diagnosis as a way to help fellow Aspies and parents of Aspies and spread awareness. If I help just one person by doing this, then I've served a purpose.

      by Homer177 on Mon Dec 10, 2012 at 05:47:56 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Actually (4+ / 0-)

        driving works because it is a system with a finite number of rules almost all of the people follow almost all of the time.  You CAN deal with that. To the unintiated a lot of it can seem random and unpredictable, but it is not or it wouldn't work.

        Don't be intimidated.  There are plenty of driving schools and both teens and adults take the classes.  Save up, then sign up.  Also youtube is surprising helpful. I have been driving for years but it is only recently I learned some simple rules for adjusting my mirrors and guidelines as to parallel parking... from youtube!

        If you want something other than the obvious to happen; you've got to do something other than the obvious. Douglas Adams

        by trillian on Mon Dec 10, 2012 at 06:29:01 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  The one good thing about Florida (0+ / 0-)

          in my 20 years in Broward, I never once had to parallel park.

          •  I learned to drive in Broward and Palm Beach (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            counties which may explain why I never learned to parallel park.  It is a skill that would have come in handy in Gainesville, though.

            If you want something other than the obvious to happen; you've got to do something other than the obvious. Douglas Adams

            by trillian on Mon Dec 10, 2012 at 06:38:33 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  Downtown Orlando (0+ / 0-)

            You parallel park unless you pay for a garage. But I learned in PA where it was a lot more common than here. Now I'm on foot, or by bus, or like tomorrow morning by cab, so I don't have to worry about it :P. Plus I don't go to downtown Orlando very often any more. I used to once upon a time. I used to LARP in Wallstreet Plaza, Church Street, and Lake Eola. And when I was pregnant with my son and trying to stop the 'false labor' I used to walk laps around Eola.. that was lots of fun.. not.

            "Madness! Total and complete madness! This never would've happened if the humans hadn't started fighting one another!" Londo Mollari

            by FloridaSNMOM on Mon Dec 10, 2012 at 06:54:09 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

      •  You're not kidding. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        I have been in Florida once. I had to drive from Orlando to Tampa, and am still astounded that I was still alive afterwards.

        The thing about quotes on the internet is you cannot confirm their validity. ~Abraham Lincoln

        by raboof on Tue Dec 11, 2012 at 04:46:51 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  I learned to drive at seventeen because (8+ / 0-)

    my mother believed strongly every woman should be able to drive a car, understand basic finances, and have some form of career, and then she would always be able to walk away from a bad marriage.

    I am lightly on the spectrum, and while I find it stressful to drive, it's a useful skill to have, I'll agree.

    I would recommend starting with an automatic transmission so that there is one less thing to try to coordinate, and to do a lot of practice in empty parking lots at night.

    I also recommend doing parking lot practice during inclement weather conditions so that you can learn what to do when you skid in rain or snow. For me, that is an inherent muscle memory now, but that's how it became such.

    The process of learning wasn't fun, but it has been highly useful and worth doing. I would imagine that you could pay someone to teach you, if nothing else.

    When you come to find how essential the comfort of a well-kept home is to the bodily strength and good conditions, to a sound mind and spirit, and useful days, you will reverence the good housekeeper as I do above artist or poet, beauty or genius.

    by Alexandra Lynch on Mon Dec 10, 2012 at 04:26:39 PM PST

    •  Totally agree about empty parking lots. (4+ / 0-)

      My first and second cars were stick shift...and I lived in an area that gets a ton of snow every winter.

      So, although I was never on the spectrum, I certainly needed a huge amount of experience driving in snowy/icy conditions.

      One of the things you need to know is how to steer out of a spin.  Another one is: never brake on a patch of ice, even when there's a stop sign.  (At 17 I wrecked the car, but Mom was in the passenger seat yelling "Don't hit the brake!  Don't hit the brake!" right when my foot was hitting the brake....)

      To make the argument that the media has a left- or right-wing, or a liberal or a conservative bias, is like asking if the problem with Al-Qaeda is do they use too much oil in their hummus. Al Franken

      by Youffraita on Mon Dec 10, 2012 at 04:44:06 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  My dad was more prone to lonely country roads (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        jan4insight, mamamorgaine, Youffraita

        with corn fields on both sides.. then I'd be driving along and he'd reach over and slam on the breaks and I'd have to get out of it. I think I was like 13 at the time too. And this was in his big pick up not the small car. But I'll tell you what, when I was grown and had my license I could just handle a skid without thought.

        "Madness! Total and complete madness! This never would've happened if the humans hadn't started fighting one another!" Londo Mollari

        by FloridaSNMOM on Mon Dec 10, 2012 at 06:18:25 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  I was in the same position for over 20 years. (4+ / 0-)

    If you were my neighbor I'd help you. Always wished student loans were available for driving schools- wouldn't that make sense? Would you be able to bike or ride-share while addressing the license issue?
    I was happy for you when you got the job, wishing you the best!

    Stay fired up: now is the time to focus on downticket change! #Forward

    by emidesu on Mon Dec 10, 2012 at 04:36:44 PM PST

    •  I do have a golf cart... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      FloridaSNMOM, Vatexia

      which I drive short distances on non-highway roads, so I guess it wouldn't be too much of a stretch.

      I write a series called 'My Life as an Aspie', documenting my experiences before and after my A.S. diagnosis as a way to help fellow Aspies and parents of Aspies and spread awareness. If I help just one person by doing this, then I've served a purpose.

      by Homer177 on Mon Dec 10, 2012 at 05:46:13 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  AS here-driving lessons didn't work for me, but (0+ / 0-)

        w/me spatial-visual issues part of adult diagnosis (late 40's), ymmv :-)

        Yup, even shopping carts-especially as I age. Embarrassing.

        Huge suck factor in not being able to drive, and no real public transit  here. It is severely frustrating to not be able to go about your business if you are unable to drive. It also effects my ability to make and keep friends, as if being on the spectrum isn't enough. Always fearful of having others think I am using them for rides so it is rare that I even ask, even my kids. Most people don't even comprehend it out here-not driving is unthinkable.

        Driving could work out for you and I hope its one less hurdle.

        Good luck-it's definitely worth trying, that way you know for sure.

  •  a defensive driving course to start with (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    (NOT one of the comedy ones, please) ... and then instructions. I don't know how your county's set up but there are classes available here for everything from a motorcycle to a CDL, via a local community college...

    LBJ, Lady Bird, Anne Richards, Barbara Jordan, Sully Sullenberger, Ike, Drew Brees, Molly Ivins --Texas is no Bush league! -7.50,-5.59

    by BlackSheep1 on Mon Dec 10, 2012 at 05:46:14 PM PST

  •  I Didn't Drive Until I Was 30....... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    That was 37 years ago.  I actually turned out to be a great driver.  I just thought it was one of those things everyone else could do.....but not me.  I just decided to get out of my own way.  My husband taught me & both of our daughters....on a stick.  

    If I can get a driver's license...anyone can.  You can do it.

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