Learning to drive can feel both exciting and overwhelming for people with Turner syndrome and their families. Learn tips to help you/your child drive safely and feel confident behind the wheel.
What Is the Right Age for a Person with Turner Syndrome to Drive?
You/your daughter may be ready to drive when there is motivation to drive and when there is responsibility for basic self-care (such as chores, homework and taking medications).
What Are Potential Challenges People with Turner Syndrome May Face While Driving?
- Motor Skills
- Cognition, thinking
- Psychological/behavioral/emotional issues
- Short stature, short legs
Which Driving Behaviors Are Common Challenges in People with Turner Syndrome?
Most, but not all, drivers with Turner syndrome have trouble with the following:
- Finding routes
- Following directions
- Following lane positions, signs, signals or speed limits
- Noticing important road, traffic or warning information
- Deciding how to quickly act on changes to traffic or the road
- Focusing attention on important tasks instead of unimportant information
- Understanding the intentions of other drivers
Which Activities Are Important to Do Before Learning to Drive?
It may be helpful to complete the following activities before you/your daughter learn to drive:
- Identify when a driving evaluation from a driving instructor may help
- Learn the different adaptive driving equipment and strategies you/your daughter may need while driving. Adaptive equipment is equipment that makes driving easier and safer. This can include adjustable pedals or seats to help you/them sit higher behind the wheel.
Which Activities Can Help Improve Driving Skills Before Learning to Drive?
Road scanning and driving perception
- Play games like finding state license plates
- Practice spotting different objects, such as traffic signs, cars of a certain color or model, spotting red lights and finding stop signs
- Physical activities that help you/your child understand the relationship between space and coordination. This can include riding a bike, dance, yoga or many sports.
Identifying signs and directions
- Find different road or traffic signs and explain what they mean
- Navigate from the house to a familiar place using a simple map
How Can I Help Myself/My Daughter Drive Safely and With Confidence?
Prepare in Advance
- For each driving lesson, prepare specific goals and skills to focus on
- Break down tasks into steps when possible
- Check how the car fits you/your daughter. Make changes if possible (such as adjusting or changing the seat belt, mirrors, seat height or steering wheel height and distance). If you are not sure which changes to make, ask a driving instructor or the care team.
- Slowly complete through each task and driving experience
- To learn how to use a GPS or map, practice in familiar areas. This allows you/them to focus on learning how to use the GPS or map without worry of getting lost.
Focus on Skill-Building
- Reflect on your/your daughter’s strengths and challenges with driving
- Develop good scanning skills of the road, traffic and surroundings
- Encourage narrative driving (speaking aloud while driving, such as “I am taking a right turn out of my driveway. Now, I am driving to the end of my street.”)
- Ask someone you trust for written and verbal feedback when needed
When Should I Ask for Professional Help?
Ask for professional help from a driving instructor or the care team if:
- You/your daughter cannot pass the driver’s test after many tries
- You/your daughter have been in many accidents or moving violations (traffic offenses made while driving)
- You/your daughter have a lot of anxiety around driving
- If you have any concerns about your/your daughter’s safety
There are no driving schools customized for Turner syndrome. However, your community may have programs that provide driving assessment and special training. For example, the Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital in Boston, Mass., has this driving assessment.
Which Types of Adaptive Equipment Might I/My Child Need?
There are many types of adaptive equipment to help make driving safer and more comfortable. Common types of adaptive equipment include:
- Mirrors (side and rear)
- Adjustable pedals
- Seats to help your child sit higher
Should I/My Child Use a GPS?
It is important to check whether it is safe to use a GPS while driving. For many people with Turner syndrome, it can be challenging to pay attention to the road and to a GPS at the same time. It is also challenging to follow directions from the GPS. Ask a driving instructor or the care team if using a GPS is safe and which type of GPS is safest.
Rev. 8/2020. Inspired by the Rehabilitation Institute of KC. MassGeneral Hospital for Children and Massachusetts General Hospital do not endorse any of the brands listed on this handout. This handout is intended to provide health information so that you can be better informed. It is not a substitute for medical advice and should not be used to treatment of any medical conditions.