Independent community mobility and driving experiences of adults on the autism spectrum: A scoping review

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

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Importance: Autistic adults face decreased community participation for employment, education, and social activities plus barriers to driving and transportation. However, little is known about their experiences of moving around community environments.
Objective: To explore contextual issues and experiences of independent community mobility and driving for autistic adults and to determine the modes of community mobility, regions studied, and methodologies used.
Data sources: Seven databases were searched from 2000 to 2019. All empirical research relating to autism, community mobility, and driving for people older than age 5 yr was mapped. Studies examining experiences of community mobility and driving were selected for scoping review.
Study selection and data collection: Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses Extension for Scoping Reviews methodology was used. Thirteen studies reporting specifically on autistic adults' experiences with public transportation, driving, and pedestrian navigation of community environments were included. These studies were analyzed using concepts from the Person-Environment-Occupation-Performance Model.
Findings: Nine studies examined experiences of autistic adults. Seven studies explored proxy perspectives. Those studies examining driving primarily focused on learner driver experiences. Although most studies reported on personal and environmental factors, some studies reported on broader social communication and personal narrative factors. None used inclusive methodology involving autistic adults.
Conclusions and relevance: A broader focus on the contextual experiences of community mobility and driving is needed to support participation of autistic adults in their communities. Linking community mobility experiences with participation outcomes and expanding research to include experienced drivers and nonurban populations is an important component of this work.
What this article adds: Occupational therapy interventions should address community mobility and driving skills before school transition. Autistic adults' skill development may be affected by person factors such as motivation, anxiety, social skills, communication, and occupational performance desires. Environmental factors such as parental concerns, community safety, pedestrian environments, traffic volume, and public transportation design are important. Further research partnering with autistic adults could better inform future occupational therapy interventions for community mobility and driving.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-17
Number of pages17
JournalThe American journal of occupational therapy. : official publication of the American Occupational Therapy Association
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2020


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