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Today’s New York Times contains an important article for parents of teens who have been diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder or Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder. The article is entitled “Roadblocks to a Rite of Passage,” by John O’Neil, Page D1.
The article points out the increased risks that teens with ADD or ADHD face when learning to drive and when licensed. It notes their inability to focus for long periods of time, and the inattention to the driving situation, or elevated tendency toward risk taking, or both, that can result. Several academic researchers quoted in the article warn that teens with ADD or ADHD simply may not be ready to drive at the legal ages of 16 or 17, that postponing the start of driving may be the only realistic answer, and that at a minimum, teens who take some form of drug therapy for their condition must be sure to have taken their regular dosage before driving.
I know this topic. Reid was diagnosed at age 12 as having observable, though not clinically significant, ADHD tendencies. From then on, through his teen years and when he started driving, he took Ritalin and later Adderall to maintain his focus, and to my knowledge he understood the additional risk and never drove without having taken his medicine, including on the night of his crash. He had his license for eleven months without even a fender bender when he crashed. Having said this, I will always be left to wonder whether his ADHD condition contributed to his skid and his crash, and we will never know for sure.
Here is the link to Mr. O’Neil’s excellent article: