The Qatar Transportation and Traffic Safety Center at Qatar University in collaboration with the Transportation Research Institute of Hasselt University in Belgium recently delivered a training workshop on driving and autism, as part of a research project initiated by Qatar National Research Fund (QNRF). The workshop was held on 29 and 30 May at Mowasalat’s Karwa Driving School (KDS)

Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) and Alshafallah Center are also partners in the project.

Driving lesson especially for Persons with Autism

KDS co-sponsored the workshop as part of its commitment to enhance the driver education and licensing process to meet the needs of the community with different psychological and mental capabilities. The workshop was aimed at providing evidence-based practical techniques to driving instructors to help them tailor and adapt their driving lessons to the needs of high functioning autistic persons.

The workshop addressed many issues about autism such as characteristics of a person with high functioning autism, autism generally, and driving. The workshop began with a presentation of detailed information and theoretical perspectives about autism. Next, they presented recommendations that can be used by driving instructors while they train high functioning autistic individuals on driving.

Thirty senior driving instructors from KSD participated in the workshop. Qatar University Associate Professor and project lead Dr Wael Alhajyaseen, Senior Research Assistant Wondwesen Mamo and researcher Hélène Dirix of Hasselt University, delivered the workshop which lasted for two days.

According to Dr Al-Hajyaseen, it is not always easy for high functioning autistic individuals to learn how to drive and obtain a driver’s license. At the same time, it is not easy for those  involved in the driver education process (e.g. instructor) to deal with their needs. Certain characteristics linked to autism may interfere with learning to drive.

For example, autistic learner drivers report a lot of stress and anxiety when learning how to drive. In this regard, it is important to train driving instructors to tailor their lessons to the needs of these special students.

The workshop equips driving instructors with information to tailor their lessons to the learning process of autistic drivers and is expected to encourage more people with high functioning autism to obtain a driving license, thereby enhancing their level of autonomy in mobility and decreasing their dependency on their relatives and friends.

Dr Al-Hajyaseen added that the workshop Train the Trainer, where the trained driving instructors are equipped with the required knowledge and tools to deliver the same workshop to their colleagues, ensuring the sustainable knowledge transfer process and building capacity within KDS.

KDS Director Faisal Al-Naimi added that it’s important for us to cater to the needs of the entire society in Qatar and promote the inclusion of persons with special challenges.

With this programme, we can bring them a step closer to independence while ensuring safe driving behaviour.

I am proud that our trainers show such an enthusiasm to constantly educate themselves – we see this as our most important contribution to traffic safety in the country.

Karwa Driving School started its services in 2004. It was accredited by the City & Guilds UK and obtained ISO 9001:2008 certification for high quality standards. In addition, KDS has obtained a number of international quality and competence certificates and is a prominent member in many international driving organisations, most notably the International Road Transport Union (IRU).

KDS offers diverse and accredited training programmes, which include specialised trainings and specialised courses for training public and private transport drivers to deal with major events and international conferences.

KDS caters to a variety of public licensing courses, including training to obtain driving licenses for light and heavy vehicles, as well as four-wheel drive vehicle training. KDS also offers training courses for emergency vehicles, civil defence vehicles, ambulances driving programmes, transport of dangerous goods, courses of CPC Driver Training and CPC Manager Training, in addition to a safe loading and cargo securing programme.

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