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Driving With Special Needs

If you are the parent of a teen with special needs that may affect his or her ability to drive, you are not alone. In one CHOP study, two-thirds of 15- to 18-year-olds with a higher-functioning autism spectrum disorder (HFASD) are currently driving or plan to drive. Driving with special needs is a step that needs to be taken safely, especially for teens. Before beginning the learning-to-drive process with your child with special needs, CHOP@CHOP recommends considering whether your teen is "fit to drive:"

  • Do you feel your teen consistently demonstrates good judgment and maturity at school, around peers, and at home and is receptive to constructive criticism and instruction? Is she ready to accept responsibility for her safety and for those around her?
  • Is your teen demonstrating knowledge of the rules of the road and other proficiencies based on lessons learned in driver education classes? (To find out, ask your teen to comment while driving with you.)  If your teen is not doing so, is he not ready to drive or is he in need of specialized instruction?
  • Is your teen agreeable to log many hours of supervised driving practice before taking the on-road test for a probationary license? Are you or another trusted adult willing/able to serve in this important role?
  • Are there any medical or physical issues, such as untreated seizures, significant uncorrected visual impairment, uncontrolled diabetes, amputation or concussion, that may prevent your teen from driving safely?
  • Are there any behavioral or neuropsychiatric issues, such as  drug dependence, depression, Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), or intellectual disability, that may prevent your teen from driving safely?
  • Have you discussed with your teen's pediatrician whether there are medical interventions that may be needed to ensure safe driving behaviors, such as stimulant medication for treatment of ADHD?

Ev´╗┐en if you answered “yes” to these questions, there is still much to consider before allowing your teen to get a learner’s permit. It's a good idea to schedule a doctor’s appointment to address any concerns.You may also want to seek the advice of a trained occupational therapist or driving instructor.

If your teen is ready to drive, download the TeenDrivingPlan Practice Guide, an interactive resource based on years of research, to help you effectively supervise your teen's driving practice, and a Goal Guide and Logging and Rating Tool to keep you on track. 

A driver with special needs. 

Read more about developmental disabilities and driving.

Visit these websites for more specific  information:


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