How Michael is developing greater independence through learning to drive

September 6, 2021

Learning to drive a car can open up a whole world of freedom, giving people the ability to get from A to B on their own as well as building upon independence and confidence. Michael, who lives at 89a Hampton Road, is recently discovering this new found freedom, having recently started driving lessons.

89a Hampton Road is a residential service in the London Borough of Hounslow that supports up to seven adults with learning disabilities, autism and complex needs. The team are very experienced in supporting people who have challenging and complex needs, ensuring they have a meaningful and active life as part of their local community.

Michael, aged 25, an individual with a mild learning disability and autism, moved into the service in October 2018. Michael had previously been living with his grandparents and was keen to experience living more independently in the community with support.

Michael’s Key Worker, Cara, worked with Michael to develop a person-centred plan, detailing some of the key goals that he wanted to achieve. As Michael is a very sociable guy and often enjoys meeting up with family and friends out in the community, being able to drive himself to pick up other people independently was one of his key goals.

Because Michael can find it difficult to understand the process and timings for achieving goals, he initially thought he would be able to drive within a week, so it was important for Cara to help break up the goal into stages so that he could see the smaller goals he would need to accomplish to achieve his overall goal.

To support his understanding, Cara created social stories detailing the whole process and exploring all the possible outcomes with Michael, including the possibility of not obtaining his license; this was so Michael was clear on all eventualities from the beginning and was not being set up to fail.

Cara also wanted to make sure that Michael had a taster of what driving was like so that he could gauge whether it was definitely something he wanted to pursue before investing his money into actual lessons. On 26th May, she arranged for Michael to go Go-Karting in Milton Keynes to experience driving for the first time. 

Michael absolutely loved being in the driving seat and did extremely well throughout the session. Therefore, the next step was to support Michael to make decisions about the type of car he wanted to learn to drive in, whether he would prefer to learn in a manual or automatic, and to pick a driving instructor too.

Cara supported Michael to research different driving schools and different driving instructors, and they were able to find some instructors who specialised in supporting individuals with disabilities.

Michael decided he would like a male driving instructor and Cara supported him to speak to a variety of instructors and to request their pictures before making his decision, as it was important that he was able to build a good rapport with the instructor and feel comfortable and confident in learning from them.

On 25th June, Michael went on his first driving lesson and absolutely loved it. He has since had another two more lessons with more already planned.

Cara is also supporting Michael with budgeting his money so that he can pay for his driving lessons. She has supported him to open up a bank account so that his money can go directly to him rather than via his grandparents and to work out how much benefits he currently gets, as well as whether he is entitled to a disability allowances that he can put towards buying his own car.

Michael is very excited about the journey he is on to become a licensed driver and have his own car. He loves to wash cars at the service and when he gets his car, he is looking forward to it being the cleanest car in the drive.

Michael is also thinking about and is aware of the responsibility of driving a car and has already told his support workers that he will leave the car at home if he is going to the pub with friends and having an alcoholic drink.

In addition to supporting Michael to learn how to drive, Cara and the team are also supporting Michael to develop greater independence in other ways. 

He has recently completed a computer course at college and though initially he was a little hesitant about progressing on to complete the next level, having seen the support team engaging in ongoing learning and skills development and Cara having explained to him about lifelong learning he is now keen to progress with his own studies.

Cara and the team are also supporting Michael to work towards his goal of moving on to his own flat within a supported living setting by supporting him to develop the daily living skills he will need to live more independently in the future.

Cara says, “Michael is doing so well. It is so rewarding to see how motivated he is to achieve his goals and how with each success, his confidence grows. His Grandad has commented on how wonderful it is to see Michael thriving here and how proud he is of him and everything that he is achieving.”

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