If you read my blog regularly, you’ll know that my son, Sam has Autism and severe learning difficulties. He has very little danger awareness, and regularly refuses to walk when we are out and about. While on paper he is physically able to walk, that doesn’t mean he always can or will! With that in mind, today I’m sharing some of our own experiences of getting around with a special needs child. With over 7 years of practice, I think I’m now able to pass on some hints and tips to other parents and carers.
Getting around with a special needs child
Until last year, Sam was a regular user of a pushchair. We had a Phil n Teds one until he reached the 20kg limit. Then, we switched to a special needs buggy once he got too heavy for the old one. We were lucky and our local wheelchair centre provided one for Sam.
When it comes to travelling long distances, we need to use a safety harness in the car to keep Sam and everyone else safe. (He gets frustrated if you get stuck in traffic, and tries to grab the driver, or other passengers. The harness means he can’t do that). Sam’s aggression means that for us, public transport isn’t a safe option.
The thought of getting around with a special needs child like Sam on public transport is overwhelming. Of course, we used the local bus and tram services when Sam was smaller and could use his buggy. However, now he has to walk, it’s just not safe for him or others in seated around him. If a baby started to cry, Sam would be head butting windows, grabbing people and screaming to get off the bus.
Sam attends a special needs school in a different district to where we live. Luckily for us, our local education authority have provided Sam with a taxi and 1-1 support for his school runs. (I did the school run by myself until be grabbed me from behind when I was driving. Then it became a safeguarding issue and was too risky to do by myself). We bought the car safety harness for Sam after that incident, but I was still very anxious.
Where To Get Help
We realised a couple of years ago that Sam should qualify for high rate mobility. This is due to his severe learning difficulties and hyper mobility. It took us well over 18 months of fighting, but Sam was finally awarded this last year. Being able to get a car which meets his needs and takes the financial pressure off us has been a massive help! Most car dealerships have a motability scheme, and you can use companies like Allied Mobility if you need a wheelchair accessible vehicle. We opted for the Peugeot 3008, so it is high enough for me to get Sam strapped in without putting my back out.
Other Sources Of Support
If you are still not sure where to turn for support getting around with a special needs child… It’s definitely worth phoning your local council’s special needs children’s support services for information on what help is available locally. If you believe your child qualifies for higher rate of mobility, you can apply for it or appeal a decision if it’s denied. I took Sam’s claim to tribunal in the end, and presented 311 pages of evidence to support the fact he ticks all of the boxes. It took 19 months, but Sam finally gets what he needs, and we can finally travel safely as a family of 4!