Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 43, Issue 9, pp 2211–2217

Brief Report: Examining Driving Behavior in Young Adults with High Functioning Autism Spectrum Disorders: A Pilot Study Using a Driving Simulation Paradigm

Authors

    • New England University Transportation CenterMassachusetts Institute of Technology AgeLab
  • Ronna Fried
    • Clinical and Research Programs in Pediatric Psychopharmacology and Adult ADHDMassachusetts General Hospital
    • Department of PsychiatryHarvard Medical School
  • Bruce Mehler
    • New England University Transportation CenterMassachusetts Institute of Technology AgeLab
  • Gagan Joshi
    • Clinical and Research Programs in Pediatric Psychopharmacology and Adult ADHDMassachusetts General Hospital
    • Department of PsychiatryHarvard Medical School
  • Anela Bolfek
    • Clinical and Research Programs in Pediatric Psychopharmacology and Adult ADHDMassachusetts General Hospital
    • Department of PsychiatryHarvard Medical School
  • Kathryn M. Godfrey
    • New England University Transportation CenterMassachusetts Institute of Technology AgeLab
  • Nan Zhao
    • New England University Transportation CenterMassachusetts Institute of Technology AgeLab
  • Rachel Goldin
    • Clinical and Research Programs in Pediatric Psychopharmacology and Adult ADHDMassachusetts General Hospital
    • Department of PsychiatryHarvard Medical School
  • Joseph Biederman
    • Clinical and Research Programs in Pediatric Psychopharmacology and Adult ADHDMassachusetts General Hospital
    • Department of PsychiatryHarvard Medical School
Brief Report

DOI: 10.1007/s10803-013-1764-4

Cite this article as:
Reimer, B., Fried, R., Mehler, B. et al. J Autism Dev Disord (2013) 43: 2211. doi:10.1007/s10803-013-1764-4

Abstract

Although it is speculated that impairments associated with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) will adversely affect driving performance, little is known about the actual extent and nature of the presumed deficits. Ten males (18–24 years of age) with a diagnosis of high functioning autism and 10 age matched community controls were recruited for a driving simulation experiment. Driving behavior, skin conductance, heart rate, and eye tracking measurements were collected. The high functioning ASD participants displayed a nominally higher and unvaried heart rate compared to controls. With added cognitive demand, they also showed a gaze pattern suggestive of a diversion of visual attention away from high stimulus areas of the roadway. This pattern deviates from what is presumed to be optimal safe driving behavior and appears worthy of further study.

Keywords

Driving behaviorHigh functioning autism spectrum disorderDistractionCognitive workloadDriving simulation

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013