Finding your way and choosing your transport!
You may find apps on your phone the easiest way to plan your journey. You can get directions for driving, public transport, walking, taxi, cycling, flight, or motorcycle on Google Maps. If there are multiple routes, the best route to your destination is blue, all other routes are grey.
You could also use the internet- many places have links and advice regarding planning your route.
You could also resort to good old fashioned maps and maybe plan a more interesting route.
Bus and train timetables can usually be found online but you can also pick them up at the station or look at electronic information boards at stations and at some bus stops.
You may find it helpful to make a visual plan.
So, what type of transport do you prefer? For shorter distances you may prefer to walk or cycle. Public transport such as trains and buses can be convenient. Taxis may be more convenient and apps such as Uber can give you more flexibility.
The most convenient way to travel is by driving. Cars can be expensive to run but they mean you are more flexible and don’t need to stick to a timetable or restricted route. You will need to factor in costs such as petrol, insurance, road tax, buying a car and repairs. And of course, the cost of learning to drive.
Learning to drive
You must do several things before you drive a car or ride a motorcycle. These include getting a driving licence, registering, insuring and taxing your vehicle, and getting an MOT. Most people can start learning to drive when they’re 17.
Before you drive or ride you must:
- have the correct driving licence.
- be the minimum driving or riding age.
- meet the minimum eyesight rules.
Learner drivers– you must:
- be supervised by a qualified driver (except if riding a motorcycle)
- display L plates (L plates or D plates in Wales)
The vehicle must:
- be registered with DVLA
- have up to date vehicle tax (check if your vehicle is taxed online)
- have a current MOT certificate (if your vehicle needs one)
- be roadworthy
- You must also have a minimum of third party insurance that covers your use of the vehicle.
Applying for your first provisional driving licence
To apply you must:
- be at least 15 years and 9 months old
- be able to read a number plate from 20 metres away
- have been given permission to live in Great Britain (England, Scotland and Wales) for at least 185 days
Driving lessons and learning to drive
Theory test- When you book a theory test, you should say if you have a reading difficulty, disability or health condition. There are reasonable adjustments that can be made to the test to help.
Driving Test- The driving test is a standard test for everyone. Everyone who takes the driving test is required to display the same level of ability and competency in order to pass.
Asking for reasonable adjustments
If you have a diagnosis of autism:
Fitness to drive rules – You do not have to disclose your autism diagnosis to the DVLA if it doesn’t affect your ability to drive safely.
If being autistic does affect your ability to drive safely, and you do not disclose it when you apply for your provisional licence, you could be fined up to £1000 and be prosecuted if you are involved in an accident.
The guidelines say that safe driving involves, among other things: vision, visuospatial perception, hearing, attention and concentration, memory, insight and understanding, judgement, adaptive strategies, good reaction time, planning and organisation, ability to self-monitor, sensation, muscle power and control, coordination.
It may be worth telling your GP that you are thinking of learning to drive and discussing the guidelines with them.
Driving Test- Some autistic drivers may be allowed extra time for their test. You should speak to your driving instructor to find out what adjustments may be available.
National Autistic Society- https://www.autism.org.uk/advice-and-guidance/topics/transport/driving/england
Blue Badge disabled parking permits
Some disabled people qualify for a Blue Badge. The Blue Badge is linked to the disabled person rather than a particular vehicle. This means you can use the Blue Badge in any car the badge holder is passenger or driver. A Blue Badge allows you to park close to where you need to go, such as in disabled parking spaces. Blue Badge permit holders can park closer to their destination, for example in designated parking spaces.
If you receive the mobility component of PIP and have obtained 10 points specifically for descriptor E under the ‘planning and following journeys’ activity, on the grounds that you are unable to undertake any journey because it would cause you overwhelming psychological distress then you are eligible. You may also be eligible if you struggle severely to plan or follow a journey; you find it difficult or impossible to control your actions and lack awareness of the impact you could have on others; you regularly have intense and overwhelming responses to situations causing temporary loss of behavioural control or you frequently become extremely anxious or fearful of public/open spaces
Blue Badge holders can also ask for a disabled parking space near their home. Usually this would be free but local councils can have different rules about how can apply for one.
There are a lot of people who are neurodivergent who really struggle with getting public transport independently.
You may be eligible for free or reduced travel, such as bus passes or railcards.
Details on support to help with the cost of transport in the UK can be found on the government website. This includes specific support for young people, disabled persons, or if you are currently not in employment.
There is some additional help you can access:
Booking free assistance for train journeys – It is possible to book a free Passenger Assist service for all UK train journeys. You should try to book as far in advance as possible and at least 2 hours before your journey; rail staff will try to assist you if you arrive without a booking, but you may have to wait if they are busy assisting others or completing other tasks. There are no qualifying criteria for booking Passenger Assist; if you feel you would benefit from it, you can book it.
If you receive certain benefits, you may be eligible for a Disabled Persons Railcard, which will save you a third of the price of train tickets in England, Scotland and Wales (including when you are travelling in these countries if you live in Northern Ireland); visit the website for the eligibility criteria and application process.
In England, the Disabled Person’s Bus Pass allows free travel on buses at certain times of day (at any time on a Saturday, Sunday or bank holiday; from 9:30am to 11pm on any other day); passes are issued by local councils but can be used everywhere in England including outside of your local council area.
What to do if something goes wrong
If something goes wrong and/or you feel yourself starting to have a meltdown, shutdown or panic attack, try to stay calm using your usual techniques, which may include:
- breathing and/or grounding techniques
- distraction, such as reading or listening to something on your headphones
- stimming or using a stim toy
- calling a friend or family member who can help you
- if you are having a panic attack and you carry medication to manage this, consider taking it.
If you have a sunflower lanyard or autism card, it may be a good idea to wear it if you aren’t already, so people are aware that you may need extra help or processing time.
Look for someone to help you. If you are on a bus, you could press the stop button and talk to the driver at the next stop to explain the problem. If you are on a train, you could find the train manager or ask the people around you for help if it seems safe to do so.
If you have missed your stop, you can usually get off at the next stop and travel back to where you had intended to get off. On a bus journey, you often only need to cross the road to find the bus stop for your route travelling in the opposite direction. On a train journey you may need to change platform to travel back to where you intended to get off. You may need to buy a ticket for the additional journey.
If you have lost something while travelling, you can report it to the bus or train company you were travelling with and they will usually let you know if the item has been handed in to their lost property facility.
Transport for college:
Cornwall Council Home to School and Post-16 Travel
Travel Training gives people with special educational needs or disabilities the confidence and skills to travel independently on buses, trains and walking routes.
Being able to travel on public transport is a key life skill. It lets you make choices about how you live, go about your daily life and fulfil your potential.
If you have a diagnosis of autism or traits that affect you taking transport, you can get a card that clips onto your Hidden Disabilities Sunflower lanyard to indicate that you are autistic and may need some support, understanding or more time.