Autistic teenager from Gidea Park passes his driving test
An inspirational teenager with autism has finally been able to get behind the wheel of his car after struggling for six months to find a driving school that would take him on.
Alex Thompson, 19 from Cambridge Avenue, Gidea Park has just passed his driving test thanks to Robbie Wyatt-Smith from Wyatt Smith School of Motoring in Hornchurch.
His mum Wendy Thompson said: “I feel really chuffed for Alex and for Robbie.
“He went beyond the norm and put himself out so that he could teach Alex and most importantly he recognised Alex’s full potential.”
Wendy got in contact with Robbie two years ago, after spending nearly six months trying to find the right driving school for Alex, who has dyspraxia.
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Robbie agreed to take Alex on and spent time researching into Autism and found out the best way to teach Alex.
Alex passed his driving test after a year and a half of taking lessons with Robbie.
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Wendy said: “I called around a couple of driving schools and a lot of them were not interested when they heard Alex was autistic, they didn’t say it but they lacked the enthusiasm, and it wasn’t just about a driving school taking Alex, but we wanted the best one for him.
“When I called Robbie he was really passionate and he asked straight away how he could support him.
She added: “When you tell most people about autism and people with disabilities they think that it means can’t, but it doesn’t, it just means that they can, but in a different way.”
Last month, Robbie was presented with an Autism Awareness Award by the Romford Autistic Support Group (RAGS) at the group’s annnual general meeting.
Since taking on Alex, Robbie has completed an Autism Awareness course and shared his skills learned with his other drivers.
The school has now taken on a number of other members of RAGS.
Wendy said: “Robbie embraced autism and it was wonderful.
“It just shows what young people with autism are capable of achieving if they have the help of people.”
She added: “I always knew that Alex could do it because he was so determined, he is just an inspiration and an amazing role model.”
Robbie said: “It was a challenge because when I asked other driving schools all of them said that I should just stay away, but it was so rewarding when he passed his test.
“He did something that so many people said that he couldn’t, but Alex was one of my best pupils because he was so committed.”