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Driving Independence for Cognitive and Behavior Teens and Adults

Everyone learns differently and each person's situation is different. Some are more motivated by sensory input and visual concepts instead of straight verbal communication. Use of visual imagery, visual connections may help. Visual demonstrations and playing back a video of activities may help the person improve skills. Many learn with varied tone of voice. Some even learn by smell. Calming approach and concise use of words and simple step directions make a big difference.

We work with patients of all types of behavior and cognitive issues to help them become independent and safe drivers. We coach instead of lecture; we work with the person and caregivers as a team. We guide the student to make his/her own judgment and become confident in learning and making decisions.

Our patient diagnoses include the following:

  • Acquired Brain Injuries (TBI, Stroke, post seizures)
  • Attention Deficit (ADHD, ADD)
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder
  • Depressive Disorders
  • Mild dementia
  • Deficits related to vision or eye problems
  • Other difficult learner situations

Each type of behavior or cognitive issue requires a customized program to evaluate and help the teen or adult progress in learning.

For the driving evaluation, we ask that you bring a prescription from your physician(s)-They may include Primary, Geriatrician, Ophthalmologist, Pediatric physicians, Psychiatrist in case of depressive or behavior disorders, and Neurologist in case of stable post seizures, etc. We want to be sure health-wise, you are clear for driving activities.

The driving evaluation includes a thorough interview with you, your family and caregivers, your health providers and counselors. We analyze your daily tasks and functional levels, discuss current strengths and weaknesses to determine if you have potential to drive.

If there is some limited potential, we can have a trial basis and see if you can make progress.

If more severe problems emerge or there is no tangible progress, we might tell you honestly that perhaps this is not working out, or you might want to return at a later time.

For those who continue to progress, we set goals toward your driving independence. Progress can be small or big, and we will analyze each situation and discuss with you on how to improve.

Depending on the situation, some patients are tested and cleared within the same month. For others, training may require 2-6 months. In some cases, the person would require much longer, such as 1-2 years.

While you continue to learn on- and off -the -road driving skills, we will also involve your family and social network to help you continue some driving concepts and to develop functional habits in your daily life.

You want to start out with a goal and keep working on it. Some tasks need to be learned and become "second nature" before other tasks are added. We have to build from simple to complex, like stacking a blocks or building a house. The foundation must be stable first before you can add things on top.

So patience and setting your aim for the long run is the key.

Notes to Parents of Teenagers:

For parents of behavior or cognitive teens, it is actually better to start your child while younger, such as at 15-16 of age. This might seem scary, but some teens need to be trained while they are young, so that they start to understand and acquire the "motor and behavior programming" and skills as they mature. When they are still minors and are still under your care, you have better control of the situation to help set rules. If you wait until they turn 18, for example, then they are now legal adults. They might make mistakes in judgement and would not be willing to learn or take your advice. They might not be patient enough for the progress of learning.

Therefore, for many teens, it is better to start their driving program as soon as legally allowed, then you can work with us and your teen throughout the time that they are under your supervision.

Tips for Caregivers to Assist in Your Teen or Adult's Independence:

If you are parents of adult children or teens who have never driven, it is a scary first step to just think about letting them drive.

Driving is a complex process but this is a not a stand-alone skill. There are many other tasks that involve executive functioning that can help translate into improving the power of observation, logic, and driving skills later on. Please help starthis/her independence by building daily functional independence at home, in school, or at work. We'll work with you and your loved ones on many life skills to translate to better driving functions.

Click here to get Executive Functioning and Life Skills Tips

See the ADED flyers below. Within each area there are cognitive and behavior components to evaluate and practice:

Driving and ADHD [ pdf ]
Driving and Aging [ pdf ]
Driving and Alzheimer's [ pdf ]
Driving and Arthritis [ pdf ]
Driving and Asperger/Autism [ pdf ]
Driving and Cerebral Palsy [ pdf ]
Driving and Limb Loss [ pdf ]
Driving and MS [ pdf ]

Driving & Non-Verbal Learning Disability [ pdf ]
Driving and Spinal Cord Injury [ pdf ]
Driving and Spina Bifida [ pdf ]
Driving and Stroke [ pdf ]
Driving and TBI [ pdf ]
Driving and Vision [ pdf ]
Driving with Asperger's Syndrome and High Function Autism [ pdf ]

Call 813-631-9700 to schedule a Driving Evaluation

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