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Green lights for neurodiverse Salvos Wonthaggi

Head trainer Linda Jane had an enthusiastic and diverse group in the Salvos Leongatha students attending the May Changing Gears program. Sophie, Jaide, Eve, Daniel B, Daniel L, Kaeden and Max had ADSD, ADD, ASD, bipolar disorder and cerebral palsy, as well as learning and intellectual disabilities as a part of their collective lived experience.

Rather than avoid the challenge of learning the Victorian Road Code and safe driving attitudes and obtaining their learner permits, these dauntless students embraced it.

Pictured: Proud learner drivers from Salvos Leongatha, from left, Sophie, Jaide, Eve, Daniel L, Daniel B, and Kaeden with Changing Gears trainer Linda Jane (third from left).

Medical conditions don't stop students completing the program

In filling out the application form at the beginning of the program, it was discovered that enthusiastic student Eva required specialised glasses to correct an eye problem.

“This is not an obstacle to completing the course,” Linda pointed out, “when such things are identified, students can still participate gaining all the knowledge they need to pass their learner permit exam and drive safely on Victorian Roads. Once they have the required glasses, equipment or doctor’s approval they are then able to sit their test.”

Sophie was not yet sixteen, but attended, participated and now feels confident she will be able to sit and pass her learner permit test.

Daniel L was unable to read sentences but could identify single words. However, as trainer Linda worked through the program modules with him, she discovered his comprehension was strong.

Max and Kaeden found it difficult to sit in class for long periods of time but were able to apply themselves to the learning at hand, as were their classmates Daniel B and Jaide.

The students worked hard and engaged in very active classroom discussions.

Students showed great dedication to the program

On the third day, due to scheduling problems, the program did not have a classroom for the first hour and had to move to the basketball court. However, students all showed great motivation asking a lot of questions and discussing what would happen on the day of the test. Many opened their computers doing practice tests, whilst the rest threw a few hoops!

On the day of the tests all those who were able to participate met Linda at VicRoads Leongatha. The staff there were more than accommodating of the group’s unique needs. Staff member Michelle was always in the test room with the students, encouraging them and helping them with comprehension.

Daniel was able to listen to questions through headphones and also had a Vic Roads staff member sit with him. He and all but one of the students passed their tests with flying colours, and Linda is confident that the final student also, “will be able to pass with a little additional practice.”

The Changing Gears program is proud of its Leongatha students, almost all of whom, through their efforts, got themselves a green light for their learner permits.

Trainer Linda Jane noted, “This is important, not just for the permits. All test goers got to have an experience with an official government department. They dealt with compliance issues, such as providing ID and learning to wait. Overall, this experience was invaluable no matter what the result.”

Possibilities open up

Driving opens up so many possibilities for disadvantaged young people. Classes are supportive, students and trainers inspire each other, showing the way for young people to overcome their obstacles to driving and experience success.

Click here to subscribe and find out about delivery of the Changing Gears program.

Call 1-800-766-361 to find out about your nearest Changing Gears learner permit program..

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