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Driving while ADHD: Medication was the answer for one teen driver

By Hannah Henderson 


If you know me as well as I know myself, it is no surprise that I have attention deficit disorder (ADD). Ever since I was little, I’ve had trouble focusing. Doing little and big things has always been hard. 


Photo of Hannah Henderson (Courtesy of Hannah Henderson)

Like other kids my age, I am beginning to take driver’s ed courses and preparing to take my permit test and ultimately drive. But unlike most other kids, I have recently started to take a medication for my illness.

 

The first time I drove I was 14, which is too young to drive in Virginia but I was in Ashland, Oregon.  It was a humbling experience. It was in a cemetery across from my best friend’s house at the time. It was me, my best friend who was also learning to drive, and my best friend’s older sister in my friend’s manual Toyota 4Runner. 


I could NOT focus. I would catch myself looking around and not on the road, messing with the radio, just doing anything but paying attention to the road ahead of me. 


I have driven a handful of times without being on any meds. They were honestly chaotic and I don’t know how my parents aren’t still scared to drive around with me. I was always getting yelled at by them for being distracted, using my phone, checking my Apple Maps too much, looking out the side windows for too long. 



As a teen driver, I was doing everything I shouldn’t be doing. But, with my new medication, Concerta, I have been able to sit down and do things the correct way. Concerta is a stimulant that changes the amount of chemicals in your brain. It helps with focus and behavioral problems. 


Ever since I started it, I have been able to pay attention to the road and do the things I am supposed to do. I remember to use my blinker, I do not use my phone, and I can drive with the radio on without fumbling around with it. 


I have been able to drive around more and more without worrying myself or worrying the people in the car with me. I have been able to drive around to farther places because I’m able to sit down and just do it. 


This article is not a public service announcement that all people with ADD or ADHD need to get put on medication, and it certainly is not promoting the medication I am on. It’s just the perspective of a 16-year-old girl learning to drive with something that makes it a little more difficult. 


Hannah Henderson is a sophomore at Annandale High School in Northern Virginia, one of Youthcast Media Group’s journalism class partners. She writes for the school newspaper, The A-Blast. 


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