Thursday, March 29, 2012

Teenagers with Aspergers, Autism, ADHD and Driving

Getting a driver's permit and driver's license is still a few years away for my kids.  I'm sure I'll have more on this topic then, but have you ever wondered how tough it is for folks with Aspergers, Autism, or ADHD to learn to drive?

My cousin, a behavioral and developmental pediatrician at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (and a mom!), got interviewed and quoted in a couple of New York Times articles about this topic.  You can read the full articles here:

The Challenge of Driving with Asperger's
Ask About A.D.H.D., Asperger's and Driving

This quote by Dr Patty Huang is one of the key points I got out of the articles:

Pennsylvania is one of the only states in which first-time applicants for a learner’s permit must receive medical certification that they do not have a condition that seriously impairs their ability to drive. I recommend that all teenagers with developmental disabilities like A.D.H.D. or an autism spectrum disorder who are interested in driving undergo a “fitness to drive” physical as part of their routine follow-ups with their pediatricians, just as many undergo a sports participation physical to engage in team sports.

As a primary care physician in pennsylvania, I fill out hundreds of these permit applications a year.  There is a box to check if we think the applicant has "any of the following that would prevent control of a motor vehicle".  The list includes things like epilepsy to cardiac disorders as well as an item marked "cognitive impairment".  Honestly, I probably have not spent enough time really exploring this area in detail.  These articles give me food for thought and hopefully will help me become better at catching whether or not an individual may need more assessment and assistance.