Thursday, May 19, 2016

Car Seats and Autism

Knee a few hours after birth in his first car seat.
 When we went to HB's pediatric behavioral exam, they took his measurements.  He's 46" (3'10") and 40 lbs.  Basically he's on the maximum limit of his Britax terms of height.  I knew last year that he was getting close so I went ahead and bought him an Evenflo Maestro.  I bought it because while the Roundabout 55 allows you to go up to 55 lbs (while in harness mode it's 50 lbs in the Maestro), the Maestro gives you the height.  And weight wasn't the issue.  I liked that I could harness it now and later use it as a booster.  While he was 5 (now 6), I still didn't trust him not to unbuckle himself.  I also was concerned about his weight being a factor.  How was a booster seat going to protect this tiny slip of a boy?

He still could use the Roundabout in his dad's car for occasional use so we installed it there.  Except now he can't and only Knee can use it.  This means for quick trips, we'd have to use the gas guzzler.  I don't mind the gaz guzzler if everyone is going or if it's a long way or we need the space, but for a quick pop in and out that HB wants to tag along....yeah.

HB in his second car seat. Does this look like the face of an autistic child?  Yeah, I wouldn't think so either.

My concern about him unbuckling himself is the biggest problem.  Autistic people move around a lot.  And add to that ADHD, and you understand why I wanted the harness.  When we went to my in-laws over Christmas, we used their booster seat in booster mode and he seemed fine.  It was a high back.

Hubby however doesn't see the need to shell out a lot of money for a car seat that HB would only use on occasion.  I don't blame him but I still didn't want to drag out the gas guzzler.  So a compromise was struck.  If I could find a booster seat that didn't cost a fortune, we could buy it for occasional use in dad's car.  We could also work with HB about behaving himself in a booster seat or a seat belt because he can't stay harnessed forever.  HB turns 7 in January.  In AZ the law is that you have to be in a safety restraint system until the age of 8 and 4'9".  He still has a long way to go until then, but it's better to start now then expecting his behavior to improve overnight.  We can now tell him that you can't use a booster seat for a while if he misbehaves, but that won't be the case as he gets older.

I found a seat and went ahead and ordered it.

Both kids in their car seats, rear facing, in what is now dad's car.

Meanwhile Knee's a little offended by not getting his own new seat.  So far he's only had 1 and HB is getting his 3rd.  I told him that HB's old seat is about to expire anyway (Britax says it's 7 years but it's usually recommended to replace any car seat after 6 years) so for his birthday/Christmas I'll probably get him a Maestro too.  He wants it in blue.  So just like his brother upgraded around the age of 5 so will Knee.  I'll probably take his current seat (which still has a couple of years and he hasn't outgrown) and move it into dad's car and put the new seat in the gas guzzler.  Don't worry.  I have no plans to put him in booster mode.  Most car seat experts suggest not moving into booster mode until at least age 5.5 or 6 for maturity reasons.  And the seat I'm purchasing for HB doesn't allow you to use it until the child has reached at least 4. 

So tell me, what are the car seat laws like in your state?  Have you run into problems with booster seat usage? 

Knee's 2nd and current car seat.  He is forward facing now.

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