A Guide to Learning Difficulties for ADIs 0779 855 3932
It is of the utmost importance to understand that I am a driving instructor and not a special needs teacher or adviser and these guides are not meant for the purpose of diagnosing your pupils. That is for the people who specialise in that type of work. These notes are simply to help us understand the position our pupils may be in and hopefully help us to structure their learning experience with us to their best advantage and help them to leave us with a memory of a good experience not a bad one.
It must be remembered that though the DSA ask candidates to declare any learning difficulties they may have on their applications for tests their examiners receive almost no training in this at all (physical included) from what I have been told by examiners I have asked. So if you get an examiner who understands and is helpful then you got one of the good guys who has gone out of his/her way to do a bit of research in their own time, they may even have learned from experience with a member of their own family .
I hope you find these notes are of help and they remove some “ideas ” you may have had which were maybe inaccurate. If however you find an error in here then please help me and others by emailing me so that I may correct it. Thank you.
Special Needs (SN): a Generic term used for any aspects of Physical, Mental, Emotional & Educational Difficulties.Specific Needs (SpN): the term used for well-functioning people whose development may have varied from the norm, but experience areas of difficulty which may make them behave differently and so need to learn in an alternative way.
Specific Requirements: a term used to explain the appropriate support which would help balance any differences.ASC: manifests wide-ranging characteristics and although a separate condition, dyspraxia may be linked. Many people who function normally have aspects of 3 main classifications. It is not an illness, but an individual personality difference.
Autism: Severe cases will not be able to relate to other road users well enough to enable them to drive safely. Those who do may appear to be extremely shy and refuse to speak (elective mutes) make odd sounds and only feel complete within their own world. The car environment allows them to be relaxed and become competent drivers and enables them to function normally, comfortably and safely within their own metal box.
Aspergers: often highly intelligent, avid researchers, incredibly knowledgeable within a specific field of interest, but may lack understanding of what would normally be recognised as basic life matters. They can switch from adult to childlike behaviour and become stressed by the unfamiliar. Can be very verbose and appear to be superior, but detached from reality. Because they see life differently they enrich all our lives with their humour and use of language.
Semantic Pragmatic Disorder: A difficulty in understanding language in normal usage. They experience severe problems with unnecessary complex Theory Questions which will require explanations. The knowledge will be there, but the required answer may not be forthcoming, although a rational explanation may be expressed. They will not understand why their ‘correct’ answer is not acceptable. Having developed a system of Social Skills they may present as ‘normal’, but Q & A is often irrelevant and may cause panic and freezing, as they try to work out what response is required. They may find it difficult to fully understand what is required through the medium of speech and may take speech literally without any understanding of innuendo or the ability to accept hints. Language must be clear and direct.
Many candidates will not be prepared to state their condition on their test application as it is personal to who they are as people and they would not see themselves as being abnormal or disabled. In fact they would perceive the other people to be different for not being able or prepared to accept their particular characteristics. This may have led to bullying, withdrawal and self harm. They can behave in fixed and formulated patterns as there is a right and wrong way to behave, so if others are in the wrong, then they are the ones who should make the necessary changes.
b) Candidate about to begin reverse round corner as a car approaches so he correctly waits. The driver turns into his drive, gets out, opens the boot and collects his belongings, opens the door of the house, walks in, closes the door, so candidate can now continue as danger was over. Driving fault given for hesitation as examiner said, “I realised he was a bit different”.
Face to face discussion is difficult; therefore they are unlikely to be able to converse by phone, especially mobiles, since the social clues are absent owing to the lack of visual context and the inadequate wave lengths used. Investigative DSA calls will therefore be inappropriate. Once a pattern is established then it will be inflexible and permanent, but irrelevance or Short Term Sequential Memory can be problematic since it disturbs their concentration and their control of their circumstances. They may happily use technology such as Sat Navs. since they can relate to inanimate objects more easily than people, or may use Post it notes to not only trigger their memory but also to prevent the memory from being overwhelmed by the panic of the task of attempting to remember. The choice of method of ID must be offered to the candidate as for many the Sequential Memory Test has been proved to be actually dangerous owing to the brain being overwhelmed by the task of memory, rather than being fully available to be used for safe driving. As it is not something they would ever choose to use in real life, it would not enter their understanding as a skill which required developing. They may present as very smartly dressed because they believe that is what is expected, but they will not question the examiner’s authority by asking for a reinforcement of an instruction/direction as that will be beyond their communicational ability. The examiner should be aware and experienced to identify the hidden Specific Needs which are presented. It is the wider spectrum of those in our society which so enriches us all and they must have the right to an equal opportunity to attain a licence.