Remember the times when you sat eagerly by the mailbox waiting for your first driver’s license to arrive? Or the anticipation you experienced when preparing to take your first driver’s license examination? For many teenagers, the arrival of the first driver’s license marks a life milestone – one that opens new social opportunities and a sense of freedom. For ADHD teens, however, obtaining a driver’s license is often a challenge with the greatest obstacle often coming as a result of parents who are not sure their teen has the attention and focus necessary to start driving.
Lack of focus, lack of attention, and a marked increase in impulsivity, are all key characteristics of teenagers with ADHD. When not well managed, teens often experience complications in school, family life, and even experience difficulty in developing their interpersonal skills. For many teens, obtaining a driver’s license is a milestone that begins to turn around their confidence and ability to engage in more social activities which are vital to their health and long term focus and attention development.
If you are a parent who is concerned about allowing your teen to obtain a driver’s license, it is important to consider a variety of important pieces of information. First, if your state permits a parent instructed driving course, in lieu of formal driver’s education, this may be an option you will want to consider. It is important, however, to determine what environment your child will learn in best. If your relationship with your child is filled with trust and you have the ability to keep their focus and attention better, then parent instructed driver’s education may be appropriate. However, if your teenager seems to show disrespect towards your authority or does not listen well when you discuss important matters, a structured environment offered by driver’s education school may be more appropriate.
Once your ADHD teen is licensed, you will want to alleviate your concerns about their driving by riding with them when they drive and take trips that include both freeways driving as well as local commute driving. While your ADHD teen may not be pleased with this, it will help to alleviate your concerns immediately after they obtain a license.
Teenagers with ADHD and ADD should be given an ability to obtain a driver’s license just as any other teenager. The style and type of instruction for driver’s education may vary but catering that instruction to your teen’s ADHD will be important to alleviating your concerns and giving your teen the best opportunity at a successful experience in driving and opening up new opportunities for them.
Sources: Parenting Special Needs Children: 5: 67-75.