ADHD & distracted driving

I’ve been meaning to write this post for quite some time. Parents often ask me what to do when their ADHD kids get their licenses. I don’t think there is a simple answer. When impulsivity, inattention, sometimes hyperactivity, and predictable delays in maturity come together it can be the perfect storm.

I guess my advice starts with don’t be overprotective, but trust your gut. Just because society says the average kid is capable of being behind the wheel without being a menace to society, doesn’t mean your teen is ready. Impress upon them that driving is a privilege. Don’t be afraid to take away that privilege if not properly earned. And I understand that this punishment is also a punishment for you. If they aren’t driving, that means you most likely are. But, that is parenting, isn’t it? Sometimes their punishment sucks just as much for us. (Sorry Mom and Dad. I get it now!)

Practical tips:

  1. Cruise control is a wonderful thing for hyperactive types like me. For me, speed, especially on the highway was my nemesis.
  2. I would also recommend podcasts, books on tape, and old school radio shows for kids like me. Punk rock gets the blood flowing a little too much for a hyperactive 18 year old boy.
  4. For distractible types, I recommend driving stick. It keeps us more engaged in the process and more present in the moment.
  5. Navigation is wonderful. I get mine for free on my HTC Droid Incredible.
  7. Have hard and fast rules about who is allowed in the car. 8 kids in a minivan is not a recipe for success for most ADHD kids.
  8. Have hard and fast rules about phone use in the car — as in, there is none, unless you are using it for navigation. And make sure they are capable of resisting temptation.
  9. DRIVE WHILE MEDICATED!!! (Did I mention that?)

The hardest thing is to make a 16 year old truly understand that driving can be life and death without scaring them so much that they are phobic or paralyzed in to being worse drivers. I guess this comes down to your parenting style. Good Luck!

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