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Do specialist driving instructors exist for ADD/dyspraxic/processing disorder learners?

15 replies

RoseRobot · 23/05/2023 16:21

DS has a milestone birthday soon and I really want to get him a block of driving lessons. He has ADD with dyspraxia and mild processing delay. I have all of these too and never learned to drive. Same story for my mother.

I've always felt it is a huge social disadvantage not being able to drive (and the judgement from others is horrendous!) so I really want him to learn. But I know he'd get too anxious and stressed with a normal driving instructor. Are there any instructors who specialise in this? I've looked online but can't tell if they teach disability vehicle driving which is not what I'm after.

Any recommendations from first hand experience of a good instructor would be really brilliant. PM me if you like.

OP posts:
NameChangeForThisBear · 23/05/2023 16:33

Hi OP, I have ADHD, autism, dyslexia, and mild dyspraxia. I tried learning to drive at 18 but despite having a nice instructor and doing all the prep work (and having a supportive parent encouraging me), it just didn’t work for me. I had another go when I was 25 and it did work, despite me being a lot more anxious and less confident by then! I did need more lessons than average, though - after three months of twice weekly lessons, I passed my test first time.

I would suggest that instead of paying up front for a large block of lessons now, just pay for a few lessons at this point, to see if your son is really ready. Then if he is, you can commit to the block purchase. (That would take additional pressure off him, he’d probably get stressed if he was a nervous learner knowing you’d already spent loads of money you wouldn’t get back if he couldn't make the learning from the lessons stick!)

I would also try to speak to instructors and find one who is known for being patient and encouraging. I don’t think you necessarily need to find one who understands neurodivergence per se - mine sure didn’t - but if you can find one who has those key qualities of patience and niceness and being reassuring, that’s ideal.

I learnt through BSM and this was back in the days where they had actual shops, so I went in and explained that I was super nervous about driving, very unsure of myself, had tried to learn years previously and it hadn’t worked, and so I needed someone who would be patient. The shop staff knew exactly who to book me in with. I know you won’t be able to do it the same way now - no BSM shops to go in to! - but if you can have that conversation in advance, whatever company you go with, it should save lots of stress down the line.

JellyComb · 23/05/2023 16:35

My son has ADHD and i worried about this too. In the end i just phoned / emailed as many driving instructors as i could and had the conversation. ADHD and the others you mention are not considered 'disabilities' per se when it comes to driving, for example there is no special treatment given in the test or whatever.

The driving instructor we found, who was actually the only one who said he could confidently teach him, gave my son only hour long lessons, as anything over that and he would be completely distracted. He also didn't 'chat' with him between giving instructions which helped massively. He stayed calm and kept his voice level. Took my son 4 attempts to pass his test, but that was because he had to take it in a strange town. On the last attempt we looked at the driving test routes online for that town and went and memorised them every day for a week before hand, so he knew what to expect at each junction. However if your son will be taking his lessons and test in the same town, that is not necessary.

I still worry about my son now when he's out in his car, far more than my other son but it is a massively limiting thing if they can't drive as you have found out. I wish him the best of luck!

TeenDivided · 23/05/2023 16:36


Findyourneutralspace · 23/05/2023 16:38

My DS has autism and a brilliant driving instructor. They split their lesson into twice a week, so he learns the theory, goes away and thinks about it, and pays attention while he’s a passenger with me or on the bus, then practices it the next lesson. It gives him a bit more time to process things. Seems to be working.

RoseRobot · 23/05/2023 16:40

Thank you both. Excellent advice from both of you. @NameChangeForThisBear You are so right about not burdening him with a block of lessons. I'll buy a few to see how he goes. And shop around and chat to instructors first.

@JellyComb it never occurred to me that sessions longer than 1 hour would be counterproductive, so that is really useful too. We can also discuss where he takes his test and help him familiarise himself with the routes. great idea.

OP posts:
BobBobBobbing · 23/05/2023 16:42

Adhd here- although undiagnosed at the time of my driving test. I was struggling and then made the decision to go automatic only which was a game changer. My licence is auto only but that has never been a problem.

Agree that a calm non-chatty instructor would be good too.

EversoDisorganised · 23/05/2023 16:42

Mine (ASD/dyspraxia) found his own driving instructor on recommendation from someone at his uni, it seems to be going OK so far. He really needs to learn manual as his career plans will almost certainly include van driving so he accepts it might take him longer than a non-dyspraxic person but he is determined to give it a go. If you have any SEN groups locally (loads on FB) it would be worth asking for recommendations in those.

RegainingTheWill2023 · 23/05/2023 16:46

I agree totally with learning on an automatic.
My dd is autistic dyslexic and has processing difficulties and she's doing really well learning on an automatic. We got a recommendation on local fb group for instructor who is patient and particularly good with anxious driver.
We are in the fortunate position of having her learning mentor sit in on lessons to take notes so dd not overwhelmed by the verbal overload ontop of dealing with the practical side of things. It makes giving advice during practice driving more consistent because we've got the guidance direct from the instructor.
She's found youtube videos and tiktoks really helpful so she can watch and learn in her own space.
She's passed her theory test snd waiting for practical test date.
The thought of her driving alone scares me rigid but it's vital for independence and self esteem.
Her driving instructor is confident she's ready for her test do I have to trust him. She's my only so no idea if I'm more anxious than if she was NT.

TeenDivided · 23/05/2023 16:48

My DH taught my DD with dyspraxia in an automatic car with dual controls.
When she started they only went out for 15 mins, gradually increasing the time.
She had I think 4 proper lessons in our car with a proper instructor just to check progress, teach manoeuvres etc. Passed first time after 80hrs.

RoseRobot · 23/05/2023 22:29

These stories are so positive. Thank you all. You're almost making me want to learn myself, on an automatic!

OP posts:
bozzabollix · 23/05/2023 22:57

I’m currently in training to become a driving instructor. My son has been diagnosed with dyspraxia and I think I have it too, so I’m really interested in ensuring once I qualify I can help people who are neurodiverse.

I recall finding doing several processes at once whilst learning to drive was really difficult. As an instructor I’ll be trying to look at ways to take the pressure off the number of simultaneous processes being learned at once (such as controlling the pedals whilst the student looks after steering for example). I’ll definitely be looking into more ways of minimising the overload.

As a positive, I adore driving purely because I’ve found my own physical being to be hard work. Controlling a car is so much easier than coordinating to say catch a ball for example. There’s this idea that dyspraxia will stop you from being a good driver, I think that’s incorrect, I think it takes longer but there’s absolutely no reason why driving can’t end up being a real outlet where you don’t feel hindered. You become as good as your car is rather than your often very frustrating body! Hence me absolutely loving driving and being a real car bore.

RoseRobot · 25/05/2023 22:06

@bozzabollix - that's a lovely uplifting post. I love the idea of being able to handle my car better than my body as I can't catch a ball to save my life.

OP posts:
Gilead · 25/05/2023 22:55

Adhd ds passed at 17. Good calm instructor, no panics, wrote things down if needed and sent texts reminding him to study for theory.
I believe there is a very well qualified driving instructor in Leicester, might be worth a Google, she had a tv programme made about her a few years ago.

RoseRobot · 26/05/2023 09:50

Gilead · 25/05/2023 22:55

Adhd ds passed at 17. Good calm instructor, no panics, wrote things down if needed and sent texts reminding him to study for theory.
I believe there is a very well qualified driving instructor in Leicester, might be worth a Google, she had a tv programme made about her a few years ago.

I think I saw that programme and she was great, yes. But we're nowhere near Leicester, sadly.

OP posts:
GulesMeansRed · 26/05/2023 09:57

I have a son with diagnosed developmental coordination disorder (dyspraxia). He took 4 attempts to pass his driving test and learning took a LOT longer.
He didn't have a special instructor, but we were open with his teacher about the issues he had and the man had the patience of hte saint.

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