Guest post by Andrew Arboe

Today I’m excited to share a guest post by Andrew Arboe, autism advocate and speaker. I’ve had the opportunity to hear Andrew speak about his experiences with driving as an autistic individual. I often discuss the importance of learning to drive with my clients and their families as they strive to build independence – I’m excited to share Andrew’s perspective here!

Driving with Autism

Driving as a common transportation method can invoke many feelings and thoughts within individuals. Some associate driving with the feeling of freedom to go to any place they like. Others associate driving with anxiety due to driving involving many responsivities. While barriers and challenges are noted in autism discussions surrounding driving, what is not being noted are the benefits of using that license. You get responibilies, but you also get benefits that can be life changing. Due to driving for about five years, I experienced a lot of life-changing moments because of it. Today, we will go over some noticeable benefits from driving. Keep in mind that my perspective is just my own and it is not reflective of all autistic individuals.

The first benefit is having more options for employment because of that license. Sure, there are jobs that you don’t have to drive, but some of the major jobs require a license in any field. For example, the autism field has jobs where driving matters because one is interreacting with the community. Positions like mentorships, therapists and specialists travel to either the individual’s house or a community place to do their work. If I did not have my license, I would not be where I am right now with my work. Having a license can help decrease barriers on employment.

The second benefit is having more access to your community. There are gains you get in not just employment, but in accessing more grocery stores, doctors, social events, and even in-person colleges. College options are significant because not every local college may have the type of degree you may desire, so having expanded options is good. Your own town may not have everything you need, so a reason to travel further is for you to have an increased quality of life.

Finally, the last benefit is the freedom to travel anywhere you like. Any coffeehouse, pizza place, theme park, or state you can access by driving. This creates a sense of progression and adventure as one gets used to driving. For me, it feels genuinely good to discover a new landmark while driving as it creates self-satisfaction for me. I designed many trips where I test myself on going to a specific state like Massachusetts or New Hampshire. I developed a desire to see much of the world I can through my public speaking and private life.

All in all, driving can make an impact on any individual’s quality of life. However, it is important to note that it is a major responsibility to keep yourself and others safe on the road. Even if you don’t drive, you can achieve independence with other options like buses given the right circumstances. Driving is not for everyone, so it is important to find resources on making a good decision with your life’s direction.