ADHD Behind the Wheel: Teaching Attention Deficit Teens to Drive

ADHD symptoms can easily get in the way of safe driving for attention deficit teens and adults. Find out how to keep your child (and yourself!) safe on the road.

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0511.ADDFriendly.Driving

Teaching ADHD Teens to Drive

Experts believe that, in order to increase an ADHD kid's driving safety, there's a need for significant intervention at the driver training stage. But while modifications clearly are necessary, drivers’ education programs traditionally make no distinction between children with and without ADHD so the training burden for these kids often falls to the parent of the ADHD child.

Some experts argue that driving can best be taught to ADHD teens when they're young—as early as 14. The reasoning behind this is that before a child turns 18 parents have a window of opportunity where they can be both the child's ally while still being in charge so they're able to easily influence, give good instructions and establish safe driving habits. Here's how you can do it:

-- Establish an incentive system for practice driving time. Similar to other behavior incentive systems used with ADHD kids, this one allows teens to earn practice driving time with parents for every increment of appropriate behavior at home. This program can begin before a learner's permit is issued — as early as age 14 — but only if there are private back roads to practice on in your area.

-- Allow your child to practice with you as often as possible, and for 20 minutes or more per outing. The more practice they have with you, the better they'll be at driving by themselves in the future.

-- Use the practice driving time as an opportunity to discuss the special challenges facing ADHD drivers. "Ask the child: Were you distracted? By what? Ask them to process the experience." Lambert advises. "It helps them own some of the challenges they face, and it raises their awareness."

-- Set clear limits, particularly when a learner's permit is issued. "Tell your child you won't sign for the learner's permit unless he or she agrees to abide by certain guidelines," Lambert warns. These guidelines might include driving only when a parent or driving teacher is in the car, or driving a certain number of miles with the parent before receiving permission to apply for a driver's license.

Next: Setting Driving Rules...

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