Friday, May 18, 2007

Teens and Driving

One thought that has been on my mind lately is teen drivers. You see, I have a son who just turned 15, and who last week informed me that the kids at school told him that at 15 you can get a learner's permit. My mildly autistic son has a normal teen desire--to drive a car. On the one hand I'm thrilled that he is experiencing a normal desire at a normal age. On the other hand, like I told the special ed teacher at school this morning when he made a comment about my son driving "that's a scary thought". My son is disorganized, inattentive and has lousy motor skills. Those aren't exactly qualities that make me eager to put him behind the wheel of a car. On the other hand, my job is to get him ready for life, and in our society, grown-ups drive.

Elena wrote tday about her teenaged driving son. The gist of her post is that she doesn't like the fact that the car allows him to distance himself from the family. That's not really my problem. My problem is that I think it will take a long time for my son to be a good driver (if he ever is) and we live in suburban area with lots of busy streets. The "payoff" for me letting him drive would be that he could drive to school, and since his school is in the city, it would be a major help for us not to have to pick up and drop off. However, it would mean a long drive on busy streets during rush hour.

When I was at school this morning I saw flyers for drivers' ed. They are teaching it at summer school for a couple of weeks. At this point we may be looking at summer school for academics. If not, I'm trying to decide whether to sign him up for drivers' ed. Parenting teens is tough. I don't have the dating issues to deal with, but I have others.


  1. I can see how this is such a difficult decision for you. What does dh think?
    Is the driver's ed this summer mostly the book learning part or does it include behind the wheel training?
    Maybe it would be worth it just to let J get his feet wet? Maybe he should start now so that he has more time to learn before he really needs to drive

  2. Anonymous9:01 AM

    Teen driving is a tough/dangerous issue in the best of circumstances. Some teens need to remain junior drivers with serious restrictions on their driving for more years than is mandated by law. A car can kill people. Practicing now and taking driver's training and supervising (riding with!) him driving for a few years is a good place to start.

    And there are cities with good churches and sheltered workshops etc., or whatever your child's special needs might be, that also have public transportation. For example, small towns in Indiana, and Illinois. Chicago is a "don't need a car" town too. Lots of catholic parishes too.

  3. Anonymous10:16 PM

    A teen who is disorganized and inattentive (not to mention mildly autistic) likely has some subtle learning disabilities/cognitive challenges that make it harder for him to set goals, initiate action, and follow through. For an explanation of why he's having these problems and strategies to help, try reading "No Mind Left Behind-Understanding and Fostering Executive Control: The Eight Brain Skills Every Child Needs to Thrive" by Dr. Adam Cox


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