Helping Autistic Teens Fuel their Driving Dreams

Many teenagers have a passion to drive. However, they need proper driving lessons before they can wander out.

Nevertheless, learning how to successfully drive is everyone’s birthright.

Autism and Driving

Have you ever wondered if autistic people can drive? Many of you might believe the answer is a straight NO. However, a recent technology proves otherwise.

A virtual technology has been developed that aims at teaching autistic children the rules of effective driving.

Isn’t it amazing?

Let us look at the interesting turn of events that has 16-year-old Harper Kates up on his toes.

The 16-year-old is learning the rules of the driving game through the help of virtual technology.

Amy weitlauf says, “Successful driving is important and it helps budding teens achieve their first goal.”

Amy is an Assistant Professor in the Paediatric department.

The engineering team at the Vanderbilt University has been successful in creating a virtual reality environment with the help of simulators to assist young autistic teens in increasing their level of comfort behind the steering wheel.

Nilanjan Sarkar, professor from the department of mechanical engineering at the Vanderbilt University, says, “Autistic children, today, can effectively hone their driving skills in a safe VR room that promises them a better tomorrow.”

Professor Nilanjan further adds, “The good thing about virtual reality is, learning teens to not have to endanger themselves by going on the road without proper skills.”

The virtual simulator is programmed to replicate roads, school zones, highways and many more environments. The team says the program is well suited to take into account the varying driver needs of every individual in question.

Sarkar adds, “Anxiety is a common factor among many autistic individuals, and their gaze patterns are different.”

However, the advancement in technology has helped engineers to program sensors to track eye movement and measure stress levels.

Sarkar further explains, “Here in our research center we effectively monitor the students’ skin sweat and heart level. This will ensure we have real-time feedback.”

Nevertheless, the team highlights that the experience is a fun-filled journey and they are proud of coming up with something unique.

Harper had a unique reaction when asked about his new experience. Harper says, “Although I do not see it as a perfect real-time situation, the experience is pretty close.”

Jennifer Kates, an excited mother of Harper, says, “It would be amazing to have a new driver back home.”

The program aims to give autistic teens the motivation and boost they require whilst helping them become safe drivers.

At present, driving simulators are at the research phase. However, experts believe these will soon be made available to teens who are on the autism spectrum.

The team is equally excited to have their first driver from the virtual to the real world of driving.

Helping Autistic Teens Fuel their Driving Dreams
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Helping Autistic Teens Fuel their Driving Dreams
Autistic children, today, can effectively hone their driving skills in a safe VR room that promises them a better tomorrow
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