wackyshenanigans asked: Hey, I think you mentioned on this blog that you have several cars, so I'm guessing you can drive. Do you have any tips for dyspraxic people trying to learn to drive? Thanks. :-)
I only have one car (and a sort of precariously functional one at that); the “several” thing was to make a joke work. I am ashamed.
But as for driving while dyspraxic—like most things for me, it came down to practicing for way longer than a non-dyspraxic person. It took three years after getting my licence before I could do driving as a casual thing and not a “okay, I’m really going to get the hang of it this time, I swear” thing.
Things that may help:
1) A sympathetic, patient, unflappable instructor. You do not want a nervous person next to you. (Nobody does, but when your brain’s response to instructions that are too fast or confusing is “oh no flail freeze”, it’s extra important.) Even if they’re not the best driver you know, get the calmest person you know to teach you.
2) Start with an automatic if you possibly can. I started with a stick shift and that was a huge mistake. Automatic transmission means one less thing to worry about.
3) Go somewhere the roads aren’t crowded. I drove wayyy out into the country to practice driving at first so I wouldn’t have to worry about navigating traffic while I was still learning what to do with my feet.
4) Spend a lot of time learning how to use the car before anything else. I think driver’s ed classes tend to sort of skim through “this is how you go faster, this is how you turn” and then spend most of the time on traffic laws and defensive driving, but with dyspraxia the biggest challenge is just physically getting used to the way your body movements translate into car movements. Log a lot of hours on country roads or in empty parking lots just getting a feel for that, and then go into traffic.
5) GPS. Driving is hard enough at first; driving and figuring out where you are is two different dyspraxia-unfriendly tasks.
6) Two things that were problems for me were following distances and staying centered in a lane. For following distance: learn to watch cars pass landmarks, then count the seconds until you pass the landmark. For lanes I don’t know a trick, but it just comes down to forming a mental image of what the lane looks like when you’re centered, and which way you need to turn if the lane doesn’t look like that.
7) When you’re backing up, the way you turn the wheel is the way the back end will turn. It took me forever to work that out.
8) Mostly just… practice, practice, practice forever. I don’t know if it’s this way for everyone, but I find I can learn coordinated skills; it just takes me much longer and much more work. Hopefully it’s the same for you.