Driving While Autistic

I covered drinking and how autistic people are divided but not unreasonably afraid of it. It’s not a topic you can pin down much like a lot of topics are. Driving though? Here’s how epic the gulf is. Some of us fear cars and will never touch the wheel. Then there’s AS diagnosed Gary Numan who gave us the new wave anthem Cars, probably the most autistic hit song ever. So yeah, it’s an epic divide.

With that in mind, I’m not going to talk about all sides, just discuss how I feel about driving. Because there’s no question where I fall. Crank the tune linked above because this is my love letter to the experience of getting behind the wheel.

I love to drive. That can’t be a shock since I loved to ride my bike. I love to travel. A car is just a form of travel. It’s incredibly soothing to just get behind the wheel and relax. It really becomes sensory destimulating.

And you’d think it wouldn’t be that way. You’re behind the wheel of at multi-ton death machine. Most of us know someone killed in or by one. Most of us have been in accidents. I’ve certainly done so.

But when you plot those compared to how often I’ve driven, they’re less than a statistical blip. I’ve driven countless times out of state and not been in an accident. Of my three biggest accidents, two were within 5 miles of my house and one was 75 miles away. So let’s get accidents out of the way. They happen but they’re not how I view driving.

Driving to me is the act of getting out on the interstate. I prefer high speed drives to in town driving, the irritating stop/start motion. Nah, at its purest driving is getting out, flying down the interstate. You’d think hitting 70 MPH is stressful. It’s not. Everyone else is going that fast. You’re a salmon in the stream. You just go.

I listen to music in town but on a long drive, I like an audiobook or a radio drama. Podcasts are great too. Talking is what I like though. Mental images forming as I go with the flow. I’m focused as I drive. When I overthink, I’m a worse driver. Occupy my mind and I drive on instinct.

And once I hit that groove, it’s the best meditation. In February, I crossed the state driving in silence. I just thought. I let my mind rebuild and heal. I was better for the experience. And it happened behind the wheel.

That’s how I view driving. The chance to be released. My car gives me freedom I need. Yeah, I love to drive.

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