Car rides...parents of Autistic children either dread them or adore them!
Our family has a love/hate relationship with riding in a vehicle. Our Autistic sons have routine car rides that calm the roughest days...and yet at the same time, can cause some of the worst anxiety for the drivers and other passengers.
We quickly learned that vehicle safety and overall awareness was vital when transporting our children.
Once our boys outgrew their child car seats, we knew that we would need something other than a standard seatbelt to ensure they remained in their seats. They managed to break free of most child car seat straps either by sheer flexibility or brute force. The idea of utilizing only a standard seatbelt painted my mind with visions of my boys free roaming the inside of my car, jumping, etc. - all while I was driving. Terrifying thought right?
We set out immediately, scouring online for viable and cost-effective solutions. We were able to stumble upon a few special needs car seats — however, they unfortunately also came with a very hefty price tag and lacked the versatility to fit all vehicles.
Then one morning, when strapping on their bus safety harnesses that the school supplied, I wondered why couldn’t this same harness work in a standard vehicle as well? My fellow parents, I am happy to say that they do and at a fraction of the cost of a special needs seat! The certified harness is extremely durable, and typically utilized on special needs school buses and vans. They easily attach to any vehicle seat and the child cannot escape! Click here for the special needs seat harness.
If your child is reaching for you while you are driving you may need a safety barrier. If they are pulling your arms, hair, hitting or biting you- you will need a safety barrier like we do. A barrier provides safety and calm knowing that your child will not interfere with your driving the vehicle. Click here for a safety barrier.
To truly keep your Autistic child safe in a vehicle, especially if your child is non-verbal, visible signs and other tools are absolutely necessary. A visible decal can assist emergency personnel in accurately assessing the victim and understanding how to approach helping your child in the event of an emergency. Window decals effectively communicate your child’s condition to anyone approaching the vehicle. Get your own warning decal.
Seatbelt covers can easily attach to any harness or seatbelt, and provide important information about your child for anyone attempting to help. Click here for your own seatbelt cover.
Seatbelt covers, or window decals describing your child’s condition, especially if they are non-verbal, can save time and in certain circumstances, lives.
Keeping a brief medical summary sheet with pertinent medical information can assist emergency respondents in securing an accurate image of your child and allow for appropriate treatment. Laminate and keep it readily available in your vehicle. Don’t forget to include any medications that your child takes and emergency contact information.
Have your child’s comforting items handy as well. Why not? If they assist at school or in your home, bring them along for the ride! Our sons travel with their chews to alleviate stress and anxiety, as well as their favorite movie soundtrack to set the mood. We may have had to endure Charlotte’s Web on repeat for years, but they now ride calmly and comfortably so worth it!
Car rides don’t have to be avoided or dreadful, but they must be safe! Research online, ask a therapist, teacher or fellow parent for advice - don’t give up on finding an adequate solution to ensuring the safety of your loved one. The car can be a safe sanctuary for your children with ASD. It should be safe for everyone in that car as well. Thankfully this is not a new problem and there are a lot of good solutions out there for our special kids.
Need suggestions on safely transporting your Autistic child? Comment below!