Teen Drivers and ADHD

by ih-chi admin

For most parents, the idea of their teenager learning to drive is, well, scary. Add in the challenges associated with ADHD, a learning disorder, or autism, and anxiety can skyrocket.

A recent study published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics showed that teens with ADHD are about one-third more likely to be involved in a car accident than others, and that they may take a little longer to pursue a driver’s license than the traditional age of sixteen years. 

That doesn’t mean you hide your keys. The accident risk is manageable, describes one researcher. But, taking a bit longer to get a license may be a good thing.

Along with taking their time to master driving skills and road rules, here are some other tips to help your budding driver feel safe and confident behind the wheel. (Note: These tips are good for all new drivers.)

  1. Enhance your child’s gross motor and cognitive thinking skills before learning to drive by playing lots of sports and games that involve quick and strategic thought. 
  2. Have a frank discussion with them about the seriousness of driving and ensure that they understand the consequences of things like speeding and running a red light.
  3. Limit distractions when first learning—no music, drinking or eating, and keep passengers to an absolute minimum of just you or their instructor. 
  4. If your child is on ADHD medication, check with your provider what effect that will have on their driving…such as the drug’s longevity in their system and what times of day may be off-limits for driving.
  5. Enlist the help of a driving instructor experienced in working with special needs teenagers.

Finally, there are many mobile device apps now with checklists available to assist new drivers. They can alert your child to look at the gas tank each time they get in the car, ensure they have exact directions for where they are headed, and remind them to check in with a parent once they arrive at/or leave a destination.  These are great tools for keeping an ADHD driver focused and on task for getting from point A to point B. 

(Courtesy of the US News & World Report)