Developing community mobility and driving with youth on the autism spectrum: A psychosocial perspective

Michelle L. Kersten, Kristy Coxon, Hoe Lee, Nathan J. Wilson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUND: Youth on the autism spectrum face particular challenges with community mobility and driving, contributing to reduced community participation. Skill development may be uniquely shaped by complex interactions between autistic traits, psychosocial influences and community environments. Research to guide occupational therapy practice is sparse.
OBJECTIVE: This short report explores the complex interplay between psychosocial and environmental influences on community mobility development, to stimulate further occupational therapy research and provide considerations for practice.
METHOD: Because of the lack of autism specific research, we firstly discuss psychosocial and environmental influences impacting non-autistic youth, then draw on current research to identify challenges for youth on the spectrum. Finally, we propose considerations for practice and research.
CONCLUSION: Psychosocial considerations for developing community mobility and driving include social communication, safety, navigating unpredictable community environments, emotional regulation and motivation for community participation. Future research should explore how to develop foundational community mobility skills; communication and social skills; and autistic needs for inclusive design. Supporting normative community mobility skills during adolescence may underpin transition to independence in adulthood. SIGNIFICANCE: Broadening the focus of community mobility and driving research to understand environmental and psychosocial contexts of community environments, is necessary to provide guidance for occupational therapists supporting youth on the spectrum with independent community participation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)91-96
Number of pages6
JournalScandinavian Journal of Occupational Therapy
Issue number2
Early online date05 Aug 2020
Publication statusPublished - 2021


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