Instructor guiding learner driver

Learning to drive and dyspraxia

Learning to drive is often a long and difficult process, no matter who you are.

But if you have dyspraxia, it can be even more difficult.

What is dyspraxia?

Dyspraxia, also known as developmental co-ordination disorder (DCD), is a common disorder that affects movement and co-ordination.

According to the NHS, dyspraxia...can affect your co-ordination skills – such as tasks requiring balance, playing sports or learning to drive a car. Dyspraxia can also affect your fine motor skills, such as writing or using small objects. 1

Other common symptoms of dyspraxia include:

  • Poor hand-eye coordination;
  • Lack of spatial awareness;
  • Short-term memory problems;
  • Inability to concentrate;
  • Issues judging speed and distance.

It's pretty obvious that if you have dyspraxia you're probably not going to find learning to drive an easy or quick process.

But - if you pick the right instructor and have a realistic approach to the length of time it's going to take -  it definitely can be done! Just ask Richard Branson, Cara Delivingne or Daniel Radcliffe - they all have dyspraxia and drive 🙂

Problems dyspraxic people might face when learning to drive

For a start, there's the theory test.

If you have issues with short term memory or an inability to concentrate you're going to have work hard to pass your theory test.

Use up to date apps and browser based learning resources such as Theory Test Pro and check out the extra help you can get.

When you're learning to drive a lack of spatial awareness will cause problems when driving though gaps and working out how close you are to the kerb when stopping.

Some learners with dyspraxia struggle to follow directions given by a sat nav. They find it very distracting and make mistakes. Remember that the examiner doesn't mind if you go the wrong way as long as you do it safely so don't think you MUST go the way the sat nav says! Focus on your driving, not the sat nav.

Learning to drive with dyspraxia - some tips

1. Learn to drive in an automatic car

Not having to think about what gear you need to be in and not worrying about stalling on a hill or at traffic lights makes learning to drive so much easier.  So while there's no reason why people with dyspraxia can't learn to drive a car with gears, it's probably going to take a lot longer, cost more and be more stressful - espeially in the early stages. Why make it harder for yourself?  Go auto!

2. Consider taking an intensive course

If you suffer with short term memory problems, learning to drive in a week or two instead of several months will avoid forgetting things in-between driving lessons. Intensive driving courses might look expensive but you will almost always spend more in the long run if you take weekly lessons.

3. Find the right instructor

Not all driving instructors have the same experience and patience when it comes to teaching people who need a bit of extra help.

Ask friends and family for recommendations and read on-line reviews and testimonials.

If you've already started learning to drive and feel your instructor isn't helping you as much as he or she should be, tell them that you're struggling! If they don't give you the support you need, find a different instructor. If you don't, you're going to get anxious, you won't enjoy your driving lessons and you'll spend more money than you need to.

Where to find support

There are plenty of support systems for people with dyspraxia. Ask your GP or Google. Groups like the Dyspraxia Foundation offer lots of help and encouragement. They also have a very good 'learning to drive' information sheet.

Next steps

Assuming you've done your research and found a driving instructor who looks promising - book a driving lesson. Do it today!

If you've got the right instructor you're going to enjoy learning to drive. And just think of the freedom you're going to have when the examiner turns to you and says 'well done, you've passed'. Passing your driving test can change your life - so don't worry, think positive and go for it.

If you have any questions about learning to drive, feel free to get in touch. I'm happy to help.