Julia is a driving instructor with over 20 years of experience. She also specialises in teaching those with Autism and Asperger’s Syndrome and is an NDIS approved provider in Eastern Suburbs, Bayside, St George, Kogarah, Inner West, South Suburbs, and other areas by request, such as Bankstown and Liverpool areas. Have a look here for more information.

The main reason people learn to drive is to gain freedom so they can go where they want, when they want. Being able to drive also means you don’t need to rely on family, friends, taxis or public transport to get around. Driving gives you greater access to recreational and social activities, helps you gain and keep employment and enables you to do many other important things such as visiting the doctor or going shopping and can save you time.

Driving a car is not something you can learn from Youtube – you need to find someone to teach you all the ins and outs of being behind the wheel. Make time for one or two hours of tuition a week. If you leave long gaps between lessons, you might forget something important that you’ve learnt. Once you start learning, try to keep the lessons regular and stay committed. Learning to drive can be quite a complex task.

When you sit in the driver’s seat, you’re surrounded by all sorts of buttons, dials, mirrors, numbers, and flashing lights. The pedals will be close to your feet, the steering wheel over your knees and the gear stick to your left. There is also quite a bit of multi-tasking that you will need to be able to do when controlling a car but with practice and time you will be doing many of these things automatically. This is why finding a good teacher is important.

So, how can you find one and how does it all work under the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS)?

Finding a Good Teacher

Once you’ve passed the theory test and picked up a pair of L plates, you’ll need someone to teach you how to operate the car. As a learner driver, the person in the passenger seat with you must have a valid, unrestricted Australian driver’s licence. Some things you’ll need to learn, in order to drive safely and confidently, include operating the pedals and steering wheel, changing gears, adjusting your mirrors and even turning the engine on. Learning to drive can be pretty stressful so you’ll want to find someone experienced that you’re comfortable with.

Try to find someone who can explain things simply to you, is patient, and can communicate clearly. A good teacher can make learning to drive fun and relaxed. All teachers are different and often its best to go with someone who has a good reputation. You can ask your friends or family might be able to recommend a good teacher, but it is still important to do your own research. Have a look at what different schools offer. This can include their experience, available resources and teaching methods. You might even be able to pick out your preferred instructor, such as someone of the same gender as yourself.

As with most things, it’s important to shop around. The first school you find may not be the best one for you. Find out first what the school can do for you. If you have specific needs, you can even do a quick Google search. You can search for things like “Special Needs Driving Instructor” or “Autism Driving Schools”. The NDIS also has a list of approved providers on their website who specifically cater to the disability sector.

RMS requires learner drivers under 25 years of age to complete a minimum total of 120 hours with 20 hours being at night, while those over 25 don’t have this legal obligation. But as with anything, practice makes perfect. When you have lessons with an accredited driver trainer, you can record three hours for every hour of lessons. This is a nice perk and will quickly help you notch up 30 hours in your logbook.

If you’re going through NDIS you’ll need to include learning to drive specifically in your plan. Talk to your LAC or Support Coordinator about this. The item comes under Improved Daily Living Skills (CB Daily Living Skills) and is called Specialised Driver Training. The code is: 15_046_0129_1_3.

Additional Benefits

Even if you don’t go all the way to getting your P’s or driving independently, there are a lot of other great benefits gained from learning to drive. These can include improved self-confidence and multi-tasking skills, better spatial awareness, visual skills and hand-eye coordination, as well as better knowledge of your neighbourhood and road safety.

You don’t need to rush the process of learning to drive. It can be a long-term project and you can fit it into your own schedule. You can even treat learning to drive as a recreational activity or have extra lessons if you want to refresh a few things. Once you’ve passed your driving test and received your driver’s licence, you’ll be able to drive wherever and whenever you like.

Happy & Safe Driving!

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