All children are special, but some are a little more special due to certain particular conditions which need to be addressed to ensure their comfort and of course their safety.
These specific conditions can be either mental or physical. Mental conditions can include:
- Anxiety and hyperactivity, making them reluctant to remain restrained in a seat.
- It could be autism, causing the child to interact in a different way with their surroundings, it can all seem very strange or in fact, they are unable to accept that they must use a child seat. It will take patience to get them used to it, little by little.
- It may be some sort of mental incapacity etc.
Physical conditions can include:
- Temporary: perhaps due to an operation, a fracture or a dysplasia that requires bandaging or a plaster requiring them to adopt a different position in a seat to normal.
- Permanent: perhaps due to an abnormal development of the child, lack of muscle tone, scoliosis, conditions that cause the instability of the head and neck, fragile bones requiring a system that exerts much less pressure on the body and offers more protection in an accident, or children that use wheelchairs
We must remember that child seats reduce the risk of injury to all children, which is why it is a legal requirement to use them. A child with special needs must be made as safe as possible just like any other child. Their condition is no excuse for not using a child restraining system.
Depending on their condition, they can use a conventional child seat or they may need to use a seat that has been specially adapted for them. Unfortunately these specially adapted seats are very expensive.
If there was a better knowledge of how many children require these specially adapted seats it might encourage the manufacturers to offer more options, and hopefully reduce the cost of them.
It would also be helpful if there were some help available to purchase these specially adapted seats, making them more accessible. It would also be helpful, if they were only required on a temporary basis, due to a facture for example, that they could be loaned for short periods.
The usual types of child car seats available for children with special needs are:
- Carrycots for children that have to lie down.
- Seats without sides on the base so that they can separate the legs and be able to stretch them.
- An additional harness to keep the torso of the child upright against the seatback.
- Cushions that help to maintain a comfortable posture.
- Headrests with side wings, collars or a cap with Velcro straps to hold the head in place.
- Seats that can turn through 90¬º, to be able to turn it to the door for easier access.
- For children with fragile bones it is advisable to use a backward facing seat for as long as possible.
Parents of children with special needs can consult their pediatrician and an orthopedic specialist to find the best seat; they can also have a look at the FUNDACIÓN MAPFRE list of child restraining systems for children with special needs.