How can older children with special needs ride safely? There are children who, once they reach the approved maximum height and weight limit for their child seat, continue to need additional postural support. More specifically, we refer to children with cerebral palsy, insufficient head or neck control or with certain neuromuscular disorders. There are also alternatives for these children so that their rides in cars are safer.
The first thing every parent or guardian must do is ask the occupational or physical therapist about what additional support the child needs and how he/she should be seated. There are various systems on the market.
Some require installation of additional straps or belts, so it is important to be familiar with the specific indications for their use. There are some that support the heads, others support the necks and some support the backs of children under 48 kilograms.
Another option is the E-Z-On vest intended for children over two years of age with behavioral problems or who lack trunk control. These vests are highly practical, especially for children who are better protected with some additional support but do not need a special medical seat.
Conventional booster seats are another valid option for children with disabilities; they improve their posture and provide greater trunk support. The main advantage to these kinds of seats is that they help correctly fit the seatbelt of the vehicle over the pelvis and chest of the child.
Finally, there is the three-point seatbelt, something so simple and which is found in all cars - only very old cars might not have them. Using this safety device correctly can be enough to correctly restrain the chest of some children with special needs.
Of course, for it really to be effective, it must be used correctly: the lap belt must be situated low and flat across the hips, and the shoulder belt must be snug against the chest without any play in it. If the lap belt is situated over the stomach, or if the shoulder belt cuts across the child's neck, a cushion or a booster seat is necessary. Remember, the shoulder strap of the seatbelt should never be situated underneath the armpit or behind the child's back.