My 12-year-old daughter just got her wheelchair two years ago, so traveling with a child and a wheelchair is relatively new to me. It used to be that if we wanted to go on an outing, we all just went. There was no thinking, no planning, and no worries about child safety seats, wheelchairs, or step stools. I took all of that for granted.
My wish for this upcoming year is to be able to afford an accessible van. But for now, I can’t, so this is how I improvised with the vehicle I do have.
Luckily, I drive a truck, so there is lots of room in the bed to transport her wheelchair. The problem is that it is an open area not covered from the weather. I found a truck camper top to fit on the truck bed. It has a door that opens at the back so the chair can fit in and be protected.
The next area of concern is safe seating for my daughter in the vehicle. She cannot sit unsupported for more than a few minutes, so using the vehicle seat and restraint weren’t an option. We bought a safety seat for kids with disabilities. Ours has a 5-point harness system for the seatbelt and a hundred-pound child weight limit.
Finally, I had to have a safe way for my daughter to get into the truck and her seat. She can do transfers so I decided to buy a sturdy foot stool that she can use to get into the truck. I am right there helping her and making sure she does not fall. There is a handle for her to hold onto as well.
Who knew that it would take so much thought and planning to just go to the grocery store with my daughter? I certainly had no idea but am learning every day!
During the COVID-19 pandemic, we asked parents of children with disabilities and special health care needs to share their tips and stories about caring for their children during difficult times.