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When your child goes to school after an injury.

by Marilyn Lash, M.S.W. Published by Exceptional Parent, in collaboration with the Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, Tufts University School of Medicine, New England Medical Center, (C)1992 Tufts University. For information about purchasing When Your Child Goes to School After an Injury, please see ad on page 37.

The following excerpt is from the chapter Getting to and from School Safely by Kim Hesse, M.S, W.

Many parents fear their child will be hurt again. Since car crashes are a major cause of first and repeated injuries, this chapter discusses prevention methods for safe transportation. When your child returns to school, many different people, including relatives, friends, school bus and special van drivers, may be transporting your child. Transportation is a related service that can be part of your child's educational plan if special care is needed.

Every state has a child safety law. Since each state is different, check with your Governor's Highway Safety Office for the law in your state.

Questions to Ask the School About Transportation

* How will my child travel to and from school?

* How do I know my child will be safe between home and school?

* How can I be sure the person driving my child is sensitive, reliable and cautious?

* Who will meet my child after arriving at school?

* Who will meet my child after returning from school?

* How will I know if there is a problem when I'm not with my child?

* Is there an emergency plan for my child during travel?

What If My Child Uses a Wheelchair or a Special Van?

Special measures must be taken when children travel in wheelchairs. Very often they use a special van or transportation company arranged through the school. Below is a check-list for your child's safe transportation in a wheelchair.

* What kind of training in first aid and emergency procedures has the driver received?

* Does the driver wear a safety belt?

* How does the transportation company conduct regular checks on motor vehicle offenses by their drivers?

* How much information is the driver given on your child's condition and special needs?

* How often do the drivers change?

* Will other children be transported with your child and how many?

* Have you inspected the inside of the van for cleanliness, neatness and stored emergency items?

* Are there loose items that could fly around and hit your child during a sudden stop or crash?

* Does the exterior of the van look well maintained?

Some parents have found that special transportation isolates their child from schoolmates. No matter how chaotic, riding the school bus is a social activity. So is walking home with friends. When the children with special needs are separated for special transportation services, they may feel "different" than their classmates. This may happen again after arriving at school if a child has to use a different entrance at the side of the building for a ramp or railing. Parents suggest working out a plan with the school so that a classmate or aide meets your child upon arriving and leaving.

Another concern of parents is the need to have a backup system in place. Emergencies, delays, changes in plans or routes, and mixups happen sooner or later, Your child, family, school, and the driver and transportation company all need to have a written plan for who is to be contacted in case of changes or problems. More than one person should be listed as a backup in case the first is unavailable.

Safety Rules for Wheelchair Transportation

Standard wheelchairs are not designed to be transported in motor vehicles, so special precautions are needed.

* A system to hold and secure the chair to the vehicle should be required and meet crash test standards of experts. It is best to secure the wheelchair to the vehicle at four different places. This is called a "Four point tie-down system." Ropes, large elastic cords, or blocks of wood are not safe and should never be used.

* A restraint system must be used to hold the child safely in the chair. This should be a shoulder and lap belt that states it has been crash tested for use with wheelchairs in motor vehicles. Positioning harnesses and velcro are not safe protection during travel. Lap trays must be removed. The child should have head or neck support.

* Wheelchairs must face the front or rear of the vehicle, never the side. A side-facing wheelchair can collapse in a crash.

* Any equipment or supplies (oxygen tanks, braces, walkers, crutches) must be placed under the seat or on the floor surrounded by pillows to limit movement in case of a crash.
COPYRIGHT 1993 EP Global Communications, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1993 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
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Author:Lash, Marilyn; Hesse, Kim
Publication:The Exceptional Parent
Article Type:Excerpt
Date:Mar 1, 1993
Previous Article:Baby girl.
Next Article:Working toward a balance in our lives: a booklet for families of children with disabilities and special health care needs.

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