Special Needs Considerations

The Transportation Safety Program at Rady Children’s Hospital wants to make sure that every child is safe traveling in vehicles. There are several services that the program can provide to children with a variety of special needs including:

  • Consultation with parents with children with special needs that can be seated safely in conventional seats
  • Consultation with Physical and Occupational Therapists for long term adaptive car seats
  • Temporary adaptive seating and restraint systems following a surgical procedure or casting
  • Temporary loaner car seats for children going home on weekend passes from the Bernardy Center

Car Seat Consultation

Many children with special needs can travel in conventional car seats with some specific recommendations. To begin the process consult with your physician and therapists about any physical and behavioral situations that need to be addressed. When scheduling an appointment for a car seat inspection please call our car seat helpline at (858) 576-1700 ext. 243547 and speak with one of our technicians about your child’s specific issues. That way we can prepare for your visit and make the most of your appointment time.  Below are some examples of some recommendations for children with  some common adaptive car seating needs

Behavioral Issues

Children with behavior issues may be unable to stay secured in a seat belt alone.

A car seat with a 5-point harness may be required for children with behavioral problems for a long period of time to prevent them from unbuckling as seat belt used in a booster seat.

High back booster seats with internal harnesses that have seat belts routed underneath the seat base may be helpful in reducing the child’s likelihood of unbuckling the restraint during travel.

E-Zon Vest with kid-Y harness rear back closure. It may be helpful for use with children who have behavioral problems and impulsively unbuckle their seat belt.

Developmental Delays

A child with developmental delays such as Down syndrome might also have increased joint laxity, especially in the neck.  For added protection this will require them to remain in a rear facing car seat for as long as possible and stay in a 5 point harness until the highest weight limit. For children who are impulsive or cannot follow safety instructions, they may require a 5 point harness or safety vest while riding in a vehicle until they can sit safely using a seat belt.

Adaptive Car Seating for long term needs

Some children with mild physical issues can sit in a conventional car seat. We recommend that your child’s physical or occupational therapist consult with the child passenger safety specialist prior to your child’s appointment to make sure that all their physical requirements are addressed. The program has several adaptive car seats for trial to determine the best car seating for your child’s needs. Once a car seat is chosen your child’s therapist can order the seat and submit a letter of medical necessity for insurance coverage.

For Health Care Providers

Please click here to view the protocol for requesting a car seat consultation

Temporary Adaptive Car Seating

A child may require a special restraint system or car seat after casting to the hip, thigh or spine or a surgical procedure. The Transportation Safety Program at Rady Children’s Hospital can offer several loaner options with the submission of a security deposit and a physician’s prescription detailing any physical requirements of the seat. It is important to schedule an appointment with a child passenger safety technician prior to a scheduled procedure to ensure that your vehicle can accommodate your child in a modified position or the adaptive car seat. In some situations a family vehicle cannot accommodate a child and special transport will need to be made by hospital personal upon discharge home.

Temporary Adaptive Car Seating for Residents of the Bernardy Center: A “loaner” car seat may be available for children traveling on a weekend pass from the Bernardy Center. Please have your social worker, nurse or physician contact the the Transportation Safety Program at Rady Children’s Hospital to schedule an appointment.

For Health Care Providers: Please click here to access the protocol for scheduling an appointment to consult for a loaner car seat