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ADD & Driving
Jul 11, 2010
My daughter was diagnosed with ADD about 8 years ago, at age 10. She started taking medicine (Adderall I believe). She complained that it made her feel ill and was losing weight. Dosage amounts were changed but did not help. We started to get concerned and decided to discontinue medication and concentrated on behaviorial approach. She didn't force the driving issue and we felt that if we waited until she was 18 that maybe she could better handle it. She appears ready to take her driving test. However, she occasionally has these lapses in judgement when I'm not sure she is alert to the situation. If I hadn't been there she would have proceeded to hit the car.

She is the second child. I taught the first one to drive and see a significant difference between the two. I am very concerned for her safety, or at minumum our financial situation, and have expressed that to her. She remains opposed to medication.

I'm curious to hear about other parents of ADD children, or from people with ADD, and their driving concerns or experiences.

Re: ADD & Driving
Jul 12, 2010
Interesting question, I honestly never really thought about it before.

That said, looking back, I can certainly see situations where my distractibility led to collisions, near collisions and tickets. I've had three collisions (they say you're not supposed to call them 'accidents' anymore ;)) in the years that I've been driving, but none in the last 17 years. Of those three collisions, I can say that two of them may well have been ADHD related, as I was fiddling with my stereo for one, and assumed the other guy was going right when he wasn't on another. The third stemmed from a terrible decision, but I don't think I can blame it on ADHD. Fortunately, none were serious. When I was 19, my insurance company called me after I'd received yet another speeding ticket, and warned me that I'd be looking at a 25% surcharge if I got one more. This knowledge forced me to learn to slow down, something that drove my ADHD brain crazy, though I managed it nonetheless.

So, I've been accident free for the last 17 years, and haven't had a ticket in at least 12. I've only been medicated since 2008, so driving safely with unmedicated ADHD must be possible. I would recommend the following to your daughter:
[*]Take it slow. Two of the hallmarks of ADHD are impatience and an unfortunate tendency to be late. The result of these two issues often leave us driving like crazy people, trying to get to where we're going, NOW! Heaven help the poor old lady that's in front of us. I learned to drive safely by forcing myself to slow down, fighting the impatience and accepting that making up time in the car isn't the right thing to do. Prior to that, well, imagine the damage that a kid in his first car can do when he's trying to do a 20 minute drive in 10 minutes.

[*]Minimize distractions as much as possible. That means no cell phone, no makeup, no coffee, no glancing at your google map while driving, and set up your radio/CD/Ipod before you start to drive (wow, I think I've broken almost all of these rules in the past week, though I can't remember ever doing makeup while driving ;)).

[*]Practice, practice, practice! The more practice one gets with driving, the more automatic it becomes, and the less the ADHD brain has to get involved to make decisions. Remember, the ADHD brain tends to process things more slowly than a 'normal' brain, and thus often takes shortcuts. Practicing a behaviour over and over the right way strengthens those neural pathways to the point that making the right decision [I]is[/I] the shortcut. Of course, there will always be unexpected events that we have to process consciously anyway, but that's why we're taking it slow, to give our ADHD brains lots of time to think about it.
Medication is another issue, but when it comes time to revisit it, keep in mind that there are several medications available nowadays, and each has the potential to affect us differently. While Adderall may make us sick, Ritalin or Vyvanse or Daytrana may not. Until we try the meds, we don't know. Medicating our ADHD is a personal decision, as one must weigh the benefits of increased function against any side effects. Ah, to have been diagnosed at 10, rather than 35. ;)

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