Dyslexia and Driving
I started my first ever driving lessons in July this year. Now, nearly five months on and almost fifty hours of lessons I have discovered that having dyslexia and being a very anxious and nervous driver are not a good combination. Before I even started my lessons I knew I would find driving horribly difficult. Unsurprisingly I was not wrong. Often people may assume that a dyslexic person may struggle horrendously with the theory element of driving, yet be more naturally suited to the practical side. I myself embody the total opposite of this assumption. I am extremely uncoordinated, struggle to remember spoken auditory instructions and often confuse the order in which the pedals, indicator and gear stick need moving and manipulating.
My lessons are always eventful. A large amount of swearing and profanity occurs, thankfully not always aimed at my driving. I can almost hear the tuts and mutters of ‘bloody learners’ every time I’m overtaken by another motorist or stall in a really inconvenient place. All thanks to my tiny and nervous bladder, I’m usually desperate for a wee by the end of each lesson. ‘Stereotypical learner mistakes’ are never far away; such as stalling, being in the wrong gear, clipping kerbs, bouncing/kangarooing down the road and hesitating at a roundabout or junction. For me driving has not come naturally.
As my test date looms ever closer I thought I’d look back and reflect on my motorist-to-be journey. I consider myself very fortunate to have a patient and understanding instructor. Furthermore I have also concluded that waiting until you are really motivated to learn to drive has been crucial. Vitally, despite the struggles and difficulties I have faced with driving due to my dyslexia I would encourage anyone and everyone to persevere as a learner. Recently I have started to enjoy learning more as the practical side of driving is slowly starting to click. Everytime I squish myself into the car and move the seat forward about six inches (as I’m a bit of a short arse) I have to remind myself that everyone learns at different speeds and learn best in differing ways. ‘Horses for courses’ is the classic mantra that comes to mind. Everyone is good at different things and this uniqueness is what makes us, well us! Driving is a life skill that can be developed and nurtured over time. For me I know that it may take considerable time to get right compared to others. Nonetheless, despite my anxieties and dyslexia, learning to drive remains one of my personal life milestones that I am determined to achieve.
This link from the British Dyslexia Association outlines the difficulties dyslexics can have when learning to drive and discusses the adjustments that can be made when taking their theory and practical tests. This vital information is awesome for both learners and instructors.
Both these links from the official GOV.UK website outline and explain how to apply and what adjustments can be made during both theory and practical driving tests. If you are permitted extra time or a reader make sure you get what you’re entitled to.
I found this short documentary video ‘driving with dyslexia’ by Bethany Chamberlain during a quick YouTube search. It is bloody awesome! I found it really relatable and it’s great to see an instructor who is so motivated to help those with various learning difficulties and neurodiversities.