AVON, Conn. (WTNH) — When Andrew Arboe was 25, he went through driver’s ed and got his license. “You must have a license to do stuff, you’re going to community outings, you need a license,” he says.
Arboe is on the autism spectrum. So, he approached management at The Next Street driving school, told them he learned in a different way and could help them diversify their teaching methods.
“I indirectly created The Next Street’s new autism program and all it took was one presentation and networking,” explains Arboe who now leads classes – like a recent one in Avon – sharing information with parents and young adults about Driving with Autism Spectrum Disorder.
The program is part of The Next Street’s Driver Rehab Services which also helps drivers evaluate issues after medical changes and assists those who require adaptive driving equipment, as well as elderly drivers experiencing issues with aging.
“I look at individuals who have had any kind of medical problem that may affect their driving,” says Joan Cramer, a certified driver rehabilitation specialist who works with those on the spectrum. “We look and study their visual and their cognitive motor skills, their coordination and how they integrate to be able to drive and operate a motor vehicle.”
She believes this effort will open doors: “Individuals are able to get to college, a college of their choice versus one that’s on a bus line that might not meet their desire or goal to study a certain program.”
And while it won’t be successful for everyone, it will allow some adults with the developmental disorder to live on their own. “I have plenty of parents who will bring to me 30-year-olds with various combined diagnoses and they’ll say, ‘I’m getting older. My child needs to be independent,’ and they just never knew the services could be available,” says Cramer.
“You have to get to places. It helps with quality of living, you can actually get to school, drive to your job,” adds Arboe who says transportation is a complex issue for the autism community.
But this program is opening eyes to ability and possibility.
“My excitement is beyond words,” says Cramer.
The Driving with Autism presentations are free. There’s one coming up April 6th at The Next Street in Westport.
Click here for more information about the program.