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Driving » Blogging AS an Aspie
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Matt has Asperger’s Syndrome (AS), an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and is writing this blog so that people can gain more of an insight into how people with the condition process thoughts, feel emotions, react to situations and generally handle life.
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21 Nov 08 So what went wrong?

I remember at the start of the year, I posted some New Year’s Resolutions, and I promised to keep to them. As 2008 draws to a close, let’s revisit them, and see the progress I’ve made.

I will update this blog often, I hope to post at least twice per week.

Well, for a lot of this year, I didn’t post at all on many weeks, so I though I’d done really badly with this one! But, I’ve been and looked at the stats, and it seems that so far, this is my 53rd post! So, I’ll have at least averaged more than 1 per week.

In terms of software updating, I’m now more than on top of things. Thanks to the guys over at WordPress, I’m running WP2.7b3, with a theme that can handle all of the new features!

I will learn to drive, I hope to pass both tests before the end of May.

Well, I didn’t pass the test before May, like the original plan was. But, I did pass the theory test in March! Then, after 3 attempts, I passed the practical test (with 9 minors). Thank-you very much Tony P & Phil from BSM for the many hours of lessons (and also thanks to Kelly in the office for managing to fit some lessons into my instuctor’s diary before the 3rd test)! In October, I also did 6 hours of Pass Plus training, which should lower my insurance for whenever I decide to go out and buy a car…

I will save at least a grand, I intend to go to university after my time in a specialist college, and would like to make life easier on myself.

Yeah, erm, maybe not! I haven’t so much as saved a grand as have a grand on my credit card. Oops. Things happened, like needing the best part of

22 Jun 08 Driving Test 1

On Friday, I took my driving test at 0917. I was relaxed, because I got up nice and early, took a shower, and had a good breakfast and a cup of tea. Then, my instructor took me for a short lesson before the test, practicing manoeuvres and a short drive. Then we spend about 20 minutes just chilling out listening to my CD before driving the short distance to the test centre.

The test centre that falls between my hall of residence and college. Literally 50 yards from each. Needless to say there was a few students and staff wandering around, some of who actually noticed me! It was only when I walked into the waiting room of the test centre that I started feeling nervous. But, within a couple of minutes the examiner had entered the room and called my name; his was Russell.

I passed the eyesight test with ease (not that my instructor had got me to read out the plates of the car behind me, of course), and flew through the safety questions quite quickly. Things went downhill from here (and not just the road away from the test centre), because whilst pulling away, I stalled the car. Unfortunately, I also have a habit of coming into junctions rather fast, as the examiner commented at the end, “Can you remember The Hollymere, where I almost joined you in the driving seat!” That was one serious, and the other was for hitting about 35mph in a 30mph limit – I forgot about Ryhope Road, and whilst I did remember quite quickly, it was too late.

However, my manoeuvres were excellent, not a single fault for my controlled stop, turn in the road, or left reverse.

“I’m sorry to tell you that you not passed the driving test today,” come the examiners words at the end of the test. A short debrief with my instructor in the back, and I was finished. Within 6 hours the next test had been booked and paid for. Thankfully I had the “Pass Promise” to cover the cost of the actual test!

05 Mar 08 30 minutes

Rather quickly, I managed to pass my Car Theory Test! I wasn’t nervous, after all nerves are only likely to affect the outcome in a negative way. I did however, worry a little when I had 50 minutes remaining on the multiple choice questions, and it was asking me if I was sure I wanted to move on. Yes, I was sure, why did the computer have to doubt me?

For the multiple choice questions, I got 49 out of 50 (pass: 43), losing my mark on a section entitled ‘Attitude‘. How appropriate, I mused as I walked back for my next driving lesson. On the hazard perception test, I achieved 56 marks of a possible 75 (pass: 44). My driving instructor thought I may have cheated for the scoresheet informed him that “on the clip with two hazards you scored 5, on 5 clips you scored 5, on 4 clips you scored 4, on 3 clips you scored 3, on 1 clip you scored 1″. Oh well, coincidences…

27 Feb 08 Driving Update

I know I haven’t posted on here for a while – oops!

Anyway, Sunderland should be rather fearful, for I have now been on most roads within the city, including some national speed limit roads. And I’ve also been over quite a number of pedestrian crossings, too.

I find my instructor is very approachable, and a really nice guy. He’s easy to get along with, and we have some good small-talk, something Aspies typically find hard. Some of the things I struggle with are roundabouts – this is possibly having to do so much at once (look for gap, anticipate timing, check mirror, change gear, check mirror, signal, select lane, check mirror, stop, change gear, move off, change gear, steer in one direction, steer in the opposite direction, check mirror, give signal, steer in opposite direction). But, with all things, I think a little bit of practice will get me there!

“Born on a Blue Day”

I have recently read Daniel Tammet’s autobiography (as you will have noticed by the link on the left to his website, Optimnem). I found something in there related to driving. Tammet says he has not learned to drive, because in his opinion, Aspies generally find this much more challenging than neurotypicals. This is due, in part, to the need to concentrate on many different things simultaneously. I agree with this statement, generally, but I find it easy to process the different things simultaneously. I would, however, say that it is advisable for Aspies to communicate with their driving instructor at the earliest opportunity about their Asperger’s Syndrome, and particularly how it affects them. They can then adapt their teaching if necessary to help you!

31 Jan 08 Police following

My instructor is rather curious about my AS; and that’s a good thing, I’d far rather have somebody ask me about it and how it affects me than read some generic book that is based on the diagnostic criteria in worst case. He was interested in medication, whether people on AS had it; personally, I don’t, nor am I aware of any, but I am aware of a few people with AS & AD/HD and I know they receive controlled drug Ritalin for their AD/HD. We chatted about the supported hall of residence, and he seemed quite shocked when I told him it had 30 staff on the books, with between 7 and 15 on any given shift.

A quick recap of last lesson, and seat change before starting. I completed the cockpit drill whilst chatting to my instructor about mobile phones (as I silenced mine), and how his daughter was attached to hers; I’m attached to mine, I admit, but she puts me to shame! It’s a good thing small talk comes fairly naturally to me, one of the few areas of socialising my AS has not affected.

This lesson, I moved up to third gear, and was expected to use my mirrors before preparing for any manouvre, in addition to checking them every few seconds whilst driving anyway! I also started to handle junctions correctly, stopping for closed ones, and slowing down for all of them; not something I like doing is slowing down. Still, I got used to the idea fairly quickly, that came in the form of following an articulated flatbed, complete with about 25 brake lights fitted to the rear of his cab… The next time I turned the bend to go down the bank, I noticed a white van pull out behind me, but I didn’t think anything of it. My instructor, however, did, “Matt, I would like you to take this corner perfectly, because there is a police van following us!” Now I re-checked my mirror, and noticed the large blue “POLICE” on the front of the vehicle.

As usual, I stalled a few times, once for doing such a stupid obvious mistake; stopping at a give way line, finding the biting point, applying some gas, but not remembering to change down from second to first. I was allowed to try moving off in second from a parked position, and needless to say, I couldn’t manage it! Overall, a very good lesson in my opinion, I definitely saw some improvements.