Learning to drive is an exciting rite of passage for young people. It can be the beginning of their life as a young adult, independence, trips with their friends – no more pick up and drops off for parents!
As exciting as it may be for the young person, it’s often a daunting prospect for parents.
- Are they ready?
- Will they be safe?
- How will I survive giving them lessons?
- What if they don’t pass?
Learning to drive requires a massive energy, time and monetary commitment. It takes time and practice to learn road law theory, courage to sit the exam (once or twice!) and even more courage to sit in the passenger seat as your child takes the wheel. Add to the mix, a learning disability, autism, ADHD, anxiety or physical impairment and it can seem an unclimbable mountain.
At Driving Well, we’re here to help you through this process.
Our Potential to Drive Program provides a starting point for learner drivers with additional needs who may be thinking of getting their learner’s permit or starting driving lessons. We provide comprehensive assessment to uncover the learner’s/your child’s learning needs based on their disability and work closely with specialised driving instructors to put together a learning package just for them.
We can also provide you with advice on what you can do in day-to-day life to build the skills they need to be a successful driver and support linking with formal therapies that may help. We also offer support for parents and caregivers to learn how to practice skills on-road skills with the individual and to learn the techniques used by their driving instructors to minimise lesson stress!
We can support you through the process of seeing if learning to drive can be supported by your NDIS Plan and walk you through the process form start to finish.
This is a huge undertaking and not a simple process. It is really important that we have a partnership between Driving Well OT and the client and their family.
Read more about the OT “potential to drive” process here.
Approval for driving training program
When a driving program (lessons) are recommended, the OT driver assessor will submit the OT driving assessment report and quote for the number of recommended lessons from the driving instructor provider, to the NDIA
“specialised driving training” is a quote required item, which needs to be approved by NDIA and added as a line item to your NDIA plan under Capacity Building: improved daily living (Specialised driver training 15_046_0129_1_3) this applies even if you have a goal regarding driving / community access, and even if you have sufficient budget in improved daily living.
Once you have written approval from the NDIA (and the line item is added to your NDIS plan), you are able to book your lessons directly with the driving instructor. (Note – as at February 2022, this is taking months to gain approval).
If you are with another insurer, a quote and report is provided, and the insurer must approve the quote to commence lessons.
Drive Focus App
Drive Focus is a tablet based app (ipad/android tablet) designed to develop visual search, reaction time/processing/decision and motor execution skills (the information processing model) required for driving.
- It has interactive video taken from the driver’s perspective, which is coded with tap-able “hotspots” of the critical items: brake lights, stop signs, traffic lights, speed signs, pedestrians, cars entering from left/right, objects on the road). The user must tap on the critical items as quickly as possible in the correct order.
- The app has Australian “tours” of Brisbane and Melbourne available and costs approximately $20AUD; there are seven drives within each tour, each of increasing difficulty.
- Visual cues for critical items can be turned on and off, and the videos can be slowed down to allow more processing time.
- The user’s score is presented at the end of each practice, and android users can email their results to their OT.
- A university study identified that six one-hour sessions of Drive Focus significantly reduce driving errors among already licenced drivers. The subjects also rated Drive Focus as valuable for improving their driving skills.
- There are other studies taking place in the USA and Canada presently to examine the efficacy of Drive Focus with populations including older adults post stroke, traumatic brain injury, and combat veterans with post-traumatic stress.
Our learner drivers are recommended to practice the app three to four times per week for about 15 minutes each session; they can level up through the drives, and review their score and re-attempt to improve their score (number of critical items and average response time).
The app is a Finalist for Best Assistive Technology product at the upcoming Australian Disability Service Awards, and winner of the Technology Award for Australian Road Safety Foundation 2021!
Why should I purchase the Get Driving toolkit?
Driving lessons are full-on – there is a lot to take in, especially in the early phases.
We know for conditions including ASD and ADHD that focusing on one task at a time and building this up (eg developing visual searching skills when outside of the car or when in the front passenger seat) will then make it easier to integrate skills when behind-the-wheel on driving lessons.
Driving Well has developed a therapy program (face to face clinic and passenger activities) and this online therapy toolkit for clients to purchase access at home with their parents / support workers, to work on fundamental skills needed for driving – and build these up so they will get more out of their driving lessons with the driving instructor.
Therapy program sessions at our new clinic space!
We are renting a clinic space at Takes Care Specialist Centre, 11 Cleveland St, Stones Corner on Wednesdays, commencing 16th November. We are so excited to be able to provide “Get Driving” therapy programs to our learner driver clients at this beautiful and accessible clinic space. This will reduce costs to our clients, and allow us to be so much more efficient in providing services.
Need support with driving and vehicle modifications assessments? Email firstname.lastname@example.org to see if we can help you.
Article by Lauren Jackson OT Driver Assessor and Jenny Gribbin OT Driver Assessor