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LEARNING TO DRIVE

Learning to drive can be difficult for people with dyspraxia. Like many other things it takes extra effort and practice. Many people do eventually get an automatic driver’s license; some even manage a manual license. Unfortunately I am not one of them. There are many reasons why some of us don’t learn to drive. I would like to share some of these with you.

The most obvious problem is motor skills. Changing the gears is probably the most difficult. Some people with great determination and persistence do learn to change gears. The other alternative is to get an automatic licence .For some occupations this can be a problem but for most it is the easiest solution. Of course you still must learn to steer the car. It will take more practice, perseverance and determination than most people but it can be achieved.

It helps to be taught by someone who understands dyspraxia. When the person instructing you is directing you on which direction to go they will inevitably say go left or right. Many of us have to think about which is left and which is right. We do not automatically know. They need to understand this and tell you with enough time for you to work out which way is right or left before you reach the street. It is too late when you are right on top of the street. They also need to be patient of the extra time it will take to steer the car and to work the peddles on the floor  multi tasking is often difficult so it can be hard to do these things at the same time especially if you add in the gears as well. Gears and peddles can be practiced in a parked car. With enough practice and determination it is possible to achieve this.

Sometimes when you have dyspraxia you can’t judge the speed and distance of a moving object. As you can imagine when driving this is a problem. We must know how fast we are going but we must also be able to judge how fast the other cars are going and how far away they are from us. If we are crossing at an intersection we must be able to tell when it is safe to cross. In order to do this we must accurately judge how far and how fast the cars are coming along the road we are crossing.  It is the same if we want to change lanes in traffic on a duel carriage way. You must be able to judge if cars in the other lane are far enough away at the speed they are doing for you to change lanes safely.

This is the problem I have and no amount of practice is going to change it. I feel for me to drive would be dangerous. Even if I was inclined to risk my life it is selfish to risk the lives of other road users. I would be too cautious at intersections because I know I can’t judge accurately. This would make other road users angry. In a car a mistake can cost people their lives. Nobody should drive if they are not 100% safe to do so. I walk as much as I can or take public transport. Sometimes it is frustrating because if I go anywhere with friends I can’t take my turn at driving or taking all the kids to a birthday party. I don’t like to feel like I am not doing my share. It is also very limiting on job and study opportunities. On the plus side hopefully the extra exercise is good for my health. I do also think you take more notice of your surroundings when walking and sometimes you meet people you  wouldn’t have in a car. As they say every cloud has a silver lining

Sharon Beaumont

I am a single mother of 4 who has lived with dyspraxia for several decades. My hope is that by sharing my experiences I can help to raise awareness of dyspraxia. I trained as an Education Assistant but found some areas of this to be a difficult career if you have dyspraxia. Currently I am an Information Technology Student and am trying to teach my self to speak French. I love travel, writing and anything French.

  • Driving is not something I enjoy or feel comfortable doing even after 17 years. I still get anxious and hate going somewhere new, fearing lane changes and getting disorientated by multilaned roundabouts.
    It took me 8 times to pass my test.
    My daughter (also has dyspraxia) turned 17 last year and has dyspraxia. I suggested an automatic car in the hope she doesn’t have to take her test as many times as her mum.
    I know one thing for sure, I won’t be teaching her!

    Kerry Pace

    June 3, 2014

  • Hi Kerry,
    Yes I think an automatic car would be helpful. It would at least eliminate having to change gears and use the clutch. At least you never gave up and eventually got your licence. I have never driven but I can imagine the fear of disorientation and changing lanes,I find it hard enough when walking in a strange place. I have noticed when talking to people who don’t have dyspraxia about driving, they just think it is the problem with the gears and steering. As you have said with disorientation etc it is a little more complicated. I am to afraid to drive so you are both braver then me.

    Sharon Beaumont

    June 4, 2014

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