Driving indicators in teens with attention deficit hyperactivity and/or autism spectrum disorder

For most teens, driving is the first occupation that encompasses tasks requiring adult-level accountability. Although getting a driver’s license may be viewed as a rite of passage for teens, driving is a privilege yielding inde- pendence in mobility but also requiring cognizance of risks. To be fit to drive (driving smoothly and cautiously despite perfor- mance deficits; Brouwer & Ponds, 1994), teens need to acquire and become proficient in a unique skill set, which is composed of visual, cognitive, and motor skills accompanied by pre- driving life skills (Classen, Monahan, & Wang, in press). With- out accomplishing this skill set and engaging in driving, adverse events, such as a motor vehicle crash (MVC), may be the unfortunate outcome.

How- ever, little is known about the fitness-to-drive skills of teens with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and/or autism spectrum disorder (ASD), two diagnostic categories that are increasing in incidence and prevalence (Classen & Mona- han, 2013).

Motor vehicle crashes are leading causes of death among teens. Those teens with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), autism spectrum disorder (ASD), or a dual diagnosis of ADHD/ASD have defining characteristics placing them at a greater risk for crashes. The authors via this study intended to examine the between-group demographic, clinical, and simulated driving differences in teens, representing three diagnostic groups, compared to healthy controls (HCs). They did a prospective observational study, were a convenience sampling of teens was recruited from a variety of community settings. Findings. Compared to the 22 HCs (mean age = 14.32, SD = ±.72), teen drivers representing the diagnostic groups (ADHD/ASD, n = 6, mean age = 15.00, SD = ±.63; ADHD, n = 9, mean age = 15.00, SD = ±1.00; ASD, n = 7, mean age = 15.14, SD = ±.1.22) performed poorer on visual function, visual-motor integration, cognition, and motor performance and made more errors on the driving simulator. Implications. Teens from diagnostic groups have more deficits driving on a driving simulator and may require a comprehensive driving evaluation.

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