Dyslexia and driving




  An internet search for information on dyslexia and driving, produced a lot of information which is useful in teaching a student with dyslexia symptoms. Most of this information is anecdotal, or untested, and comes from England.


*dyslexia is often associated with a childhood inner-ear infection
*often have trouble balancing, or balancing while doing something else
*clumsy as children, with later achievement of milestones such as crawling, walking, bicycle riding
*there are differences in the cerebellum which controls habitual activities
*a brain scan showed that adult dyslexics had only 10% of the cerebellum activity of a normal person when doing “automatic” activity. Differences in the length of neurons
*if it was hard for the student to learn to tie shoelaces, or ride a bike, then probably learning to drive will take longer
*judging distances may be difficult
*map reading may be difficult
*trouble sorting important from extraneous sensory input-distracted because overwhelmed by stuff
*they can be 20% slower in rural areas to react to traffic signs, and 30% slower in town, as compared to someone under the influence of 2 pints of beer who is 10% slower
*it takes longer to become automatic in driving skills, or may never reach this
*may have to concentrate harder than a normal student
*may not be able to have a conversation while driving
*might fail parts of a sobriety test due to inner-ear/balance issues
*may blank-out even the preliminary steps to start the car
*often can’t make sense of the view in the car’s mirrors
*may burst into tears if overloaded with sensory, or verbal input because of heightened emotionality
*new driving environments may be overwhelming due to not prioritizing which things are important
*the right-of-way at intersections is difficult, as is pulling out into traffic, and highways
*confusion of left and right, east/west
*sometimes a strong spatial reasoning skill that accompanies dyslexia, gives rise to a greater sense of awareness of the car’s position in relation to other cars, as well as stronger peripheral vision

TEACHING STRATEGIES
*a relaxation exercise before driving is helpful
*give directions one at a time, and keep it simple-too much detail is overload 
* slow reponse time to instructions, so give them well ahead
*use landmarks in giving directions, or a simple diagram with landmarks
*use “your side/my side”, or similar direction instead of left/right
*practice what to do if brain freezes from overload while driving (not just slam on the brakes)
*have places to pull off & stop if sustaining concentration becomes a problem.
*drive 1 hour each day to keep skills fresh; 1X per week is not enough
* difficulties are magnified with stress-see if the familiar driving instructor can go along on the test, or give the test
*low spatial awareness-repetition helps, as does going over the route before teaching or testing
*for complex maneuvers like parallel parking, memorize the steps, even if they can’t understand how the wheels point, or how the steering wheel affects the movement of the car in backing
*practice steering with a slolom until the student gets looking at where to go, and the steering follows the looking