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  (#1 (permalink)) Old
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Learning to drive as a person with disabilities - October 4th 2022, 02:36 PM

I got my learner permit in January 2022. April was my first driving class with an instructor. Since then I've had about 9 lessons I would say? I'm losing track xD

It was across 3 schools. I'm with my 3rd school. It is a one instructor at that school and I have to travel out into the rural area to meet up with him. Unlike driving in the city, driving here means we have to be careful of animals. He said any animal smaller than a dog means we can't stop and have to keep going. He said "I know it is jot the most animal friendly but it is the most human friendly [and safer] thing to do" This means squirrels, birds, cats, rabbits

I since then two weeks ago when I had my first lesson with him, I've been stopping on the sidewalk to watch squirrels interact with cars on the street. I know city squirrels might be different because of different learned behavior but I just want to see how hard it is to avoid killing an animal and do it safely. I keep getting intrusive thoughts of me killing an animal and it is like I'm worrying about it and feeling guilty before it happened. I'm with this instructor because the other one said he thinks I need a break and to come back in a few months in the Spring and I decided to find an instructor who serves students who learn and think differently. I felt that maybe an instructor who claims to specialize in those with the issues I have that it would be a better fit than previous instructors. After my first lesson two weeks ago I can see some difference in our interactions because he is much more understanding and much more of a teacher than the other instructors I've had who mainly barked orders at me and made mean jokes with criticism underneath those jokes. So this instructor communicates respectfully so far but I don't know how much I will improve to the point of being license ready.


I am having a super hard time learning to drive. Between multitasking, nonverbal communication, making turns appropriately and even things like in the parking lot when I opened my car door to get out and go onto the train station, there was a car passing through that I didn't even see coming! And the instructor told me "wait!" and even then I didn't process why he was telling me that. I thought he was saying it because the windshields were still on and then I was like but you'll be needing them when you go back to the driver seat! Then he had to quickly explain there was a car going by me and I then processed the image of the car going by.

I am an extremely anxious driver. People say everyone gets nervous, the same way they say everyone has a hard time making friends but in my perception I'm struggling a bit more than average with driving. With making friends too but thats a story for another time.

Another thing is that I realized that part of me knows it isn't environmentally friendly to drive and better to walk of take bus/train etc but I also know that not driving at all reduces my quality of life significantly and sometimes in order to improve I have to make the less eco friendly choice until I'm able to do better (ie: If I had my license I csn move to a more walkable area of the city or I can participate in a car share that allows me to reserve driving for certain trips but at least then I can still do those things more independently than now. I can at least make the choice to drive less rather than be isolated in not being able to drive. It is more empowering to say I know how to drive but I don't want to as much thsn to say I'm stranded but at least im saving the environment xD

Anyway I have anxiety, difficulties with non verbal communication, auditory processing, what I think may he a sort of dyspraxia? like my executive functioning skills when it comes to coordination comes out clumsy a lot of the time.

Making quick decisions is hard for me too.

So I have a lot that feels against me but it is such an important life skill and being super dependent on people to get around is really tough. Truth is, eventually if it gets to be summer 2023 I may end up moving to a more walkable area whether I have a license or not. But it seems to be helpful at least in things like when I want to get somewhere that isn't feasible by public transportation.

Anyway I'm not looking for advice per se. Just encouragement and personal stories if you have.


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Re: Learning to drive as a person with disabilities - October 7th 2022, 09:56 PM

I don't have my license either due to extreme anxiety, but I know you've been working at this for a while. Don't give up! I have confidence in you. The fact you're with an instructor who is a lot more understanding and doesn't bark orders at you may go a long way. Do you have any friends who can also help?


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Re: Learning to drive as a person with disabilities - October 8th 2022, 11:07 PM

Quote:
Making quick decisions is hard for me too.
I feel this on a deep level.

As far as personal stories go, I really struggle with driving. In present day it's because of my C/PTSD and not being present or energized enough to drive.

What helped me the first time around was going slow, so I didn't have to multitask as much. I drove doing 15/20mph in parking lots or small neighborhoods for a few weeks until I was comfortable with that. Then, I moved to roads that were about 35mph and started going through intersections - we have a lot of four way stops where I am, and I also learned to pull into the intersection and wait to make my left at a stoplight. I gradually added in roads with higher speeds, or new locations, or other things that made me anxious like merging. Still does make me nervous.

I'm still having a hard time with it because I had a car accident that was my fault a few years ago. It has been a while and I have mostly processed it - and though I am a good driver, I don't have confidence. I'm currently working towards going out on trips with someone and then driving on my own a little more. I don't know that I ever will be completely confident, but I see a little bit of caution as a good thing for me.

Everyone learns in their own way. Some people get the hang of it easily, and others have to work at it a little more. You might get comfortable driving and then end up having to tweak things later on if you become anxious again. For me, I noticed it is almost like riding a bike now: it's familiar and I know how to do it, but I'm just struggling with other parts of it.

It sounds like your current instructor will be more helpful to you than your other ones which is great!


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Re: Learning to drive as a person with disabilities - October 9th 2022, 09:37 PM

Hi Violet,

driving is intimidating for many - you're not alone! It's not surprising given that driving requires focus, processing a lot of things at once and making rapid decisions.
The general key is automatisation. Without it no human would be able to drive as they do. With practice, our body/brain starts doing movements without us having to consciously process every one of them. For instance - changing gears (if you drive a manual car).
The more of your movements are automatic, the fewer things you have to consciously focus on, so to say. So with practice, driving usually becomes less intimidating, as you can start concentrating mainly on the road and on what's going on there instead of processing every single thing, especially when you need to make some decisions quickly.

Believe in yourself learning to drive is definitely a step out of the comfort zone and it requires a lot of bravery at the beginning. It should become easier and more natural for you with time. It's great to hear that your new instructor is better - it's really important that you feel comfortable and safe with that person. From my experience and that of my friends that have their driving licence, those who had nice instructors usually have a better attitude towards driving, while the rest associates it with the beginnings, when they had to endure a lot of stress next to an unpleasant and ununderstanding teacher.

Driving is a super useful skill in today's world, but it can also be pleasant. I love driving and so do many people I know I hope you don't get discouraged if it's still hard after some time. However, every minute spent behind the wheel will make you a better and more confident driver.

Take care!
Sue


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Re: Learning to drive as a person with disabilities - October 21st 2022, 01:21 PM

Thank you so much Dez, Cynefin, Sue!

I had my 2nd lesson a few weeks ago and will be going back into it next week. I'm so nervous and my instructor said he expects I will have to warm up again but once we do it weekly it will get easier.

I told him about my fear of running over a squirrel or other small animal and he said they're very smart and often will get out of the way last minute and we have to trust that they know what to do to save themselves from danger.

That made me feel slightly better.


Hearing what each of you had to say helped a bit too. With this new instructor we don't go into a parking lot but he has hazards on and yellow flashing lights which signal that we are going slow and cars can go around us if they want to. We still get honking but he told me we are not doing anything illegal and the drivers can go around. At the same time we are working on building up speed. Last time I got up to 41 mph at a speed limit of 45 mph. Of course I freaked out immediately after I saw that and slowed back to 30 but I also managed consistently at 30 mph.

The upcoming class is next week Thursday bit somehow I'm already so nervous but at least im 'feeling the fear and doing it anyway' right ?


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Re: Learning to drive as a person with disabilities - October 21st 2022, 08:53 PM

I've had a TON of lessons, but due to my brain damage (sustained right after birth due to a stroke and asphyxiation) and the fact that you have to focus on a lot of stuff at the same time led my to quit going for a drivers license.

Can't say that I didn't try at least. After I get a permanent job, I'm tempted to go for a moped/scooter license and get more experience as a moped driver in traffic before retrying for a car license


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Re: Learning to drive as a person with disabilities - February 9th 2023, 12:00 PM

Thank you everyone. I am currently putting acquiring my license on hold.
This thread can be closed, please.


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Re: Learning to drive as a person with disabilities - February 9th 2023, 06:46 PM

Closing on OP's request.


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