When your child has a disability of any kind, it will stick with them for the entirety of their life and through all the activities that they do. Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, affects a person’s ability to do anything that requires intense focus—even driving.
While it’s not impossible to drive safely with ADHD, it can put your child at a higher risk of dangerous driving when you’re not around. Give your child the tools they need to learn independence by using these ways to help a child with ADHD drive safely. You’ll build trust as they practice safe driving skills.
Set Clear Rules for the Car Together
ADHD affects children in unique ways. It’s your job as their parent to recognize how the disability impacts their ability to focus on the road. You may find that your child has very little difficulty paying attention while behind the wheel—but many times, you’ll find that specific distractions hinder their driving skill more than others.
Work with your child to make a set of driving rules based on the things that they struggle with. If they can’t focus when songs with lyrics are playing, set a rule for the kinds of music they can listen to. When passengers cause a severe distraction, negotiate how many passengers they can have in the car as they drive. You may even want to create a list of rules to tape onto the back of the driver’s seat for passengers to mind as they ride with your child.
Set a time in the year to reevaluate your rules for the road. If you think they can handle driving with one of these common distractions, you may consider loosening your grasp on some of the tighter rules.
Distractions are a large element of a child’s life. Teach your child how to avoid distracted driving and how to prevent their mind from wandering while they focus on arriving at their destination unscathed. What seems like a small inconvenience, such as a bad mood, may turn into a huge distraction for someone with ADHD, making it important for you to help them learn their own boundaries. They should know when to pull over or wait before driving.
Do your part to prevent distractions when they’re driving—if you know your child is on the road, don’t text or call them, even if it’s important. Urge your child to set their phone to silent when they drive.
Teach Your Child With Familiar Routes
One of the most imposing factors that affect a child’s ability to drive is learning directions and road names. This is especially true for children with ADHD. As you teach them how to drive, one of the best ways to help a child with ADHD drive safely is to teach them familiar routes to the most important destinations.
Pick the easiest ways home from town, the best route to school, and routes to and from their friends’ houses. Assisting your child with learning common local routes will prevent them from needing to use distracting technology to give directions as they drive and will keep them calm if they feel lost.