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  1. #1
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    Keeping DS safe when other people transport him

    DS has mild/moderate autism. He is 4.5 yrs old but as big as a 6-yr-old. Currently we have him still in a 5-point car seat. He has started a new school and is transported there in a 15-passenger van. He also does in-home therapy and sometimes the therapist takes him into the community for his sessions.

    So my concerns are two-fold. First, in the van, they have backless boosters. I think that DS is pretty good at sitting in his seat. They have an aide that sits somewhere in the van so I suppose she keeps an eye on him to make sure he stays put. But I'm concerned about the shoulder strap--I don't know if it's too high. I'm not terribly familiar with backless booster guidelines, but isn't that one of the main concerns? That the shoulder strap isn't too high up on his neck? How can I know if it's at the right position?

    Second, for the community "field trips" that DS goes on, I need to buy a new booster seat that can easily go in and out of various therapists' cars. Right now we're lugging his heavy car seat and strapping it in and it just isn't practical. One concern I have is that the therapists aren't necessarily trained on how to install car seats and safely buckle the kids. I can show them how, but I never know if they really "get it." The therapists are usually young college students who haven't had children of their own or have ever been concerned with car seat safety. Additionally, sometimes they do group activities with other kids/other therapists. Quite often they will transfer the car seat from one therapist's car to the other so they can more easily make their next appointment. That's okay with me, except I can only hope they installed the seat right.

    So I was thinking that a booster--high back or backless--would be easier to explain and use safely. Plus it would be lighter and easier to transfer. But in looking at some of the high back boosters they seem to be quite lunky--the Monterey, the Recaro Pro, the Frontier--all the ones for tall kids--seem like they'd be difficult to transfer. The Parkway seems more do-able. Any opinions? What about a backless? That's the ultimate in ease, but is it safe?

    TIA,
    Julie

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  3. #2
    Car-Seat.org Ambassador Patriot201's Avatar
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    Re: Keeping DS safe when other people transport him

    Hi, Julie!

    First, good for you for advocating for what is best for your son.

    I am quite concerned about the use of backless boosters in the 15-passenger van. I am not saying it isn't possible that the van is safe, but I have never seen a 15-passenger van that has headrests, and I worry that a child in a backless booster *could* therefore be unsafe if his/her head is not adequately supported. At age 4.5, your son is probably short enough that the seatback supports his head, but that might not be the case for long (in fact, it might not be the case now if he is the size of a six-year-old).

    With the booster, the important things to look for are: (1) the lapbelt is positioned across the child's hips/touching upper thighs, and that it not be across the soft belly, (2) the shoulder belt needs to lay flat across the child's collarbone, and should not be too far over across the shoulder, nor should it be fully up on the neck, (3) the seat support the child in a manner so that he/she doesn't shift out of position, and (4) the child be able to stay in position for the entire ride (not falling asleep and thus falling out of position)



    For the booster for his therapists' cars, I would look at the Britax Parkway SGL or possibly the Graco Turbo Booster High Back. Those are both easy to use and fit smaller/younger children well. Do you think he will stay in position to use boosters? If not, he must be harnessed.


    “Nearly all the best things that came to me in life have been unexpected, unplanned by me.” ~Carl Sandburg
    Learning to cope with the unexpected...

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  5. #3
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    Re: Keeping DS safe when other people transport him

    I had the same concerns with the PP with regards to head restraints in the vans. All she said about boosters and booster fit is correct as well.

    If he needs something like a harnessed seat rather than a booster, you might also look into a travel vest. A vest would provide more restraint than just the seat belt but would be much lighter and portable than a harnessed seat.
    ~Danielle
    RNC-MNN, BSN
    CPST, SN Trained

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  7. #4
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    I've been one of those therapists, and I just want to say that if you tell them something like "car seats are really important to me and my family, if you ever aren't sure you are doing it right please call- I know you probably don't have kids of your own so its new territory" can really help. I never transported kiddos but know it can be hard to know what different families find important and sometimes I wished parents would just tell me.

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  9. #5
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    Re: Keeping DS safe when other people transport him

    Thank you so much, everyone. I will definitely take a good look at the van arrangement. They do offer some car seats in the van, but of course my son wants to be in the "big boy" seats. I'm sure I could provide a high-backed booster they could keep in the van just for him. It'd make me feel better...

    Patriot 201, I so appreciate the guidelines you gave me and the input on high-backed boosters that are more portable. I'm off to buy one right now....

    DanniAnnieB, I had no idea there was such a thing as the travel vest. This could be an option if he isn't staying put in his booster...thanks!

    nannykates, I'm grateful for the input on therapists--I have this phobia that I will insult them by telling them how to do something. But it's true that I know my child best, and input can only help. I also know my own carseat best and how to install it correctly!

    Finally, Patriot201, I really appreciated your kind words about me advocating for my son. Most of the time I don't give myself credit for the things I do. I assume that any good parent would do what I'm doing. But the fact is, I have to do MORE than most other parents! So it was a nice reminder for me to be nice to myself. Thanks again.

  10. #6
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    Re: Keeping DS safe when other people transport him

    I'm a nanny and transport other people's children. I don't feel at all insulted when parents want to see my car, my seats, check the installs, whatever. In fact if a parent who knew what they were doing wanted to install my seats I'd happily let them. I don't particularly enjoy uninstalling and reinstalling seats.

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  12. #7
    Car-Seat.org Ambassador Patriot201's Avatar
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    Re: Keeping DS safe when other people transport him

    Quote Originally Posted by just2Bjulie View Post
    Patriot 201, I so appreciate the guidelines you gave me and the input on high-backed boosters that are more portable. I'm off to buy one right now....
    Finally, Patriot201, I really appreciated your kind words about me advocating for my son. Most of the time I don't give myself credit for the things I do. I assume that any good parent would do what I'm doing. But the fact is, I have to do MORE than most other parents! So it was a nice reminder for me to be nice to myself. Thanks again.

    That's right-- be nice to yourself. You are doing a great job.

    It must be INCREDIBLY difficult to give other people "power" when transporting your child, and I am impressed by how you are handling it. You are researching what is best for your child, but are also understanding that there are some situations that cannot be changed. You're doing great.


    “Nearly all the best things that came to me in life have been unexpected, unplanned by me.” ~Carl Sandburg
    Learning to cope with the unexpected...

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