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Fear of Getting Into a Car

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Old 09-01-2008, 01:17 PM   #1
dave b
Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: Mid-Cape Cod, Mass.
Posts: 2
dave b HB User
Fear of Getting Into a Car

Hi. My grandson is almost five. Has no problem getting onto a school bus every day, although he must have a screen placed around him so as not to trigger motion sickness. But lately he cannot get into a car without becoming very upset. My daughter does not drive and so does not have a car, so maybe it is the newness of it that bothers him, as he is not used to getting into a car in the first place. Does anyone have issues with this too? Thanks in advance!

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Old 09-02-2008, 05:52 AM   #2
Join Date: Aug 2008
Location: Manchester England
Posts: 9
Katycat HB User
Re: Fear of Getting Into a Car

Hi Dave. My son is 32 years old now. He has Aspergers Syndrome but as a youngster his Autism was quite severe and anything new was a nightmare for him. (Still is to a lesser extent). I can remember us swapping our car and I can still hear him screaming as we tried to fasten him into the child seat having first chased him up the street to bring him back. Change of any kind is really difficult for them to deal with. My son holds down a job which pays little money, but it started out as a youth training position . He is great with computers so they kept him on and 17 years later he is still there.

He doesn't earn enough to take out a mortgage and he still lives with us.

Last edited by Katycat; 09-02-2008 at 05:54 AM. Reason: addition

Old 09-13-2008, 11:44 AM   #3
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Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: USA
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rainrowan HB User
Re: Fear of Getting Into a Car

I have had a problem with my ds who is going to be 6 with going out for a walk in the neighborhood. He can get on a schoolbus or car and even run about the property without a problem, but walking off the property and going for a simple walk into town sent him into a meltdown

We had a social worker come to the home to guide us through this and basically she told us we had to take our time to desensitize him to his fear -- it needs to be conquered in small increments.

So for instance, you might want to show your grandson a picture of your car. And see if you can chat about it, the color, the wheels, etc. Then you might want to give him some toy cars similar to what you drive and let him play with them. Next, maybe have him help you wash your car, etc You get the point. Then he might feel comfortable in getting into the car.

How does your grandson sit in the schoolbus? I wonder if he's in a child seat or booster in your car? Do you suppose the tilt of the seat is making him get nauseous? He might be getting dizzy if it's tilted too far back or if it is too upright in a moving car. My ds sometimes feels vulnerable if the seat on his stroller is reclined.

Old 09-24-2008, 09:19 AM   #4
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 470
Picali HB User
Re: Fear of Getting Into a Car

Dave, my son used to be like this as well. We were also car-less at the time and often used to turn down lifts because the trial of getting him into a car was just too much to bear! Because a lot of autistic children have sensory problems they sometimes don't 'see' everything and will only pick out a few pieces of information from what they see in front of them. We all do that to an extent, and then our brains fill in the gaps and give us a clearer picture. Therefore, to you and I most vehicles are similar, there is enough about them that is familiar to reassure us that whatever car it is, it's still a car and therefore it's okay. However, your grandson might not be able to realise/comprehend/understand that all these different kinds of car are more or less the same thing; to him each experience might be completely new and therefore very scary. I found my son was a lot better if something familiar was in the car before he went in - usually me! But it could also be a toy or book, or even some kind of sign or symbol that he can learn to associate with what he's about to do being safe and/or familiar. We always found public transport easier, presumably because buses and trains are more or less the same wherever you are. If it's any consolation, my son copes a lot better with new cars now (he's six and a half), although he still gets anxious if I don't get in quickly as well.

Old 09-25-2008, 07:54 AM   #5
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: New York USA
Posts: 741
Liamsmom HB User
Re: Fear of Getting Into a Car

Dave when my son was smaller he use to go nuts on the public bus. All the stopping and going and jerking sensation the loud motor he'd scream as if I had jsut kidnapped him from the nearest playground. Unfortunately staying in all the time and never traveling any where is not an option so I started taking the bus one stop than after a week or so two stops etc and so on. Now he's seven and rides the bus daily to school with absolutely no problems. Perhaps try just sitting in the car every day, than try just turning it on eveyday, than just around the corner etc. Also try maybe a cd that he may like or one of those magna doodle things to draw on. The trick is to consistently do this so he starts to become more at ease, be sure to give him early notice of any change to any of the scheduled car time l find that works wonders with my son.

Old 10-02-2008, 08:37 PM   #6
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: Perris, CA, USA
Posts: 6
sandbar3000 HB User
Re: Fear of Getting Into a Car

I can understand. I am 33 and I believe I have AS, although never tested. As a person with AS, (and I have been reading on AS for 2 years) many people, including myself get very scared of new situations.

I do not take buses. I drive. I like it better since I know where I need to go. I learned to drive when I was 18. I first took a bus on my own about 5 months ago. Before, If I ever took a city bus (which was rare) I'd never pay any attention to where we need to get off. The thing that scares me is "What exit do I need to get off at to get here?" and how do I know what exit I need, If I've never seen the exit before? So, I stayed away from buses. And that one bus I took 5 months ago? I have not got on a bus since!

Your grandson is used to the school bus. He may have even memorized the bus route. I rememeber I memorized my busroute when I was going to church as a teenager! Your grandson may know exactly what time he is to be at school, knows when the bus will get to school, and knows exactly what time the bus is to pick him up etc. As a person with AS, I like to have a lot of routine. Your grandson sounds like he is the same.

Since your grandson is young, it may take longer for him to get used to a car. Give it some time. After a few times going to the same place at the same time, on the same day of the week, (I'd say after a month) he may get used to it. However, be very careful. Do not change the route or the time you leave. He will get used to the routine. He may have a meltdown if his routine is changed. (I know I have).

Encourage him and let him know the car is safe. And if he'd rather sit in the backseat, let him. He may not like the radio playing. It is different with everyone.

I hope it all works out for you and your grandson!

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