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ADHD in Children Health Center

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Teens, Driving, and ADHD

How's Your Teen's Maturity?

Your son might be old enough to drive, but is he ready to handle the responsibility? Research suggests that kids with ADHD may mature more slowly than others.

You’ll need to figure out your kid’s ability to make sound judgments, control impulsive behavior, and learn and obey the rules of the road, says Miriam Monahan, an occupational therapist and certified driving instructor. She helps teens with ADHD learn to drive.

There's no test that shows whether a teen with ADHD is ready to drive. But life-skills tests, given by a psychologist or another health professional, can help get a read on a teen's decision-making level.

They might be able to master the skills taught in a classroom, but if they lack good judgment, a driver's license should wait.

It may be tough to tell your teen that she isn’t ready to drive, but it may be the right thing to do.

"The more you can delay it, the better," Cox says.

6 Tips for the Road

These ideas may help you help your child get used to driving.

1. Choose a manual transmission. Teens with ADHD said they felt more attentive while driving a stick shift, Cox found in a small study he published in 2006.

2. Drive safely yourself. That includes not using your cell phone for any reason while driving. Monahan likes to have parents of her students ride in the back seat while she's teaching. That way they can learn exactly what's expected of the teen driver. Then the whole family practices what they've learned.

3. Limit distractions, because they play a role in almost 60% of accidents involving teens. And kids with ADHD are more easily distracted.Stop your kid from being tempted to talk or text while driving. Make it a rule that cell phones go in the trunk before getting behind the wheel. Make sure your child knows to keep music low, or off, and not to eat or drink while driving.

4. Consider "driver rehab." Your child can take these courses in addition to standard driver ed. They focus on attention, judgment, and impulsivity issues as they relate to driving.

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