When I was in third grade my youngest sister, Abbey, was born. I vividly remember the day. She was born a month early and had severe brain damage. The months she was originally expected to survive turned into years. We learned to live with the true definition of the unknown until she became our guardian angel at age 13.
Every part of my life has been touched by Abbey. My childhood was full of feeling the stares of strangers and learning to be proud of explaining to people why my little sister looked different. I know as a parent you want your child to immerse themself in life’s experiences with as little resistance as possible. At the same time, you want them to learn to overcome obstacles and persevere along the way.
Free weekly car seat checks
Norton Children’s Prevention & Wellness offers free car seat checks at locations around Louisville every week.
Special needs children can be at risk while passengers
My bond with Abbey has pushed me to work with children with special needs. That desire eventually led me to work in the field of childhood injury prevention, specifically child passenger safety. Motor vehicle crashes are a leading cause of death for children, and there is never a reason for not being safe inside a vehicle.
Children with special health care needs can be at high risk of unsafely riding in vehicles. Many with sensory issues or hyperactivity find it very difficult to be restrained. If a child cannot understand the importance of staying buckled, they might get creative in ways to escape their car seat belt or child restraint. This can be deadly in a crash.
Children who require large medical car seats pose a different kind of obstacle. These seats are heavy and have different seat belt paths, weight restrictions and installation instructions.
Children who use wheelchairs also have to follow their own set of guidelines to make sure they are being transported safely. Not every wheelchair is approved for use in a vehicle. Often it takes an expert to understand all this.
Fortunately, families don’t need to face this challenge alone. Norton Children’s Prevention & Wellness has certified child passenger safety technicians who specialize in car seats for children with special health care needs. We can address specific challenges, such as:
- The correct type of car seat or safety harness
- Whether the current car seat needs modifications
- Tips to keep the child from escaping the seat