Driving lessons are difficult for everyone when first starting out, yet people with dyslexia often face a few more challenges to overcome when learning how to control the wheel.
It sometimes takes dyslexics longer to develop a sense of automaticity for tasks like driving, which results in them having to concentrate harder and possibly not being able to converse with a passenger at the same time.
Other difficulties that may arise as a result of a person’s dyslexia include a weaker than usual short-term and working memory; a difficulty differentiating between left and right; a slower processing speed within the brain; and a greater ability to be distracted by things around them.
Getting information in the correct order and instantly taking on board what their instructor is saying can also prove to be more challenging than normal.
As a result, it often takes people with dyslexia longer to learn how to drive and more attempts to pass their practical test.
Yet just because the situation is more difficult does not mean that a dyslexic person should not attempt to drive, or that their driving instructor can do nothing to alter their teaching style to help them.
For instance, an instructor can adopt more of a multi-sensory learning approach to their classes, including using visual charts and images, alongside their own words and recordings.
This will ensure that, even if someone has a poor visual memory, their tactile or auditory memory can compensate, and vice versa.
Such practices have already been adopted by theory test centres, where a person with dyslexia can take the test under special circumstances which put them on a more level playing field with non-dyslexics.
Simply changing the words used during a lesson can also have a useful impact. For instance, if a person struggles with remembering their left and rights, switching to saying ‘my side’ and ‘your side’ instead can make the situation far easier to comprehend.
Ultimately, whatever approach an instructor is taking to mitigate the effects of dyslexia, a general rule of thumb to apply is to avoid overloading the learner with instructions.
This would be difficult for anyone to digest, but it is particularly hard for dyslexics. Driving involves passing on lots of information, but that doesn’t mean you can’t do so in small chunks.
A sense of compassion and patience towards the learner is also vital. If a driving instructor is ignoring the needs of a dyslexic learner, then sometimes it is best to search for another.