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Cars for families of disabled children

Here you can find advice about choosing and using a car for families with disabled children. We look at standard features on vehicles.
We also have information on postural support, including car seats and harness information for disabled children which you won't find anywhere else.

3 children inside car, one of them in a wheelchair

Contents

  1. Introduction (this page)
  2. Choosing a family car
  3. Getting in and out
  4. Car seats for disabled children
  5. Children with learning disabilities
  6. Medical needs
  7. Equipment

Introduction

We look at some specific issues affecting disabled children and their families, including:

  • getting your child into and out of the car
  • how best to support their posture while travelling
  • ways to deal with challenging behaviour in the car
  • transporting equipment

To compile this information we consulted disabled people, parents and other experts.
We incorporated the Top 10 family car buying tips from the Which? website.

This is basic information and advice for people ;to get the right equipment to meet most needs. For highly specialised needs, talk to relevant healthcare professionals such as physiotherapists, occupational therapists or nurse specialists, or get advice from an independent Mobility Centre.

A few things to think about

  • Think about the future: Is your child still growing? Is their condition changing? Will you still be able to get them in and out the same way three years from now?
  • Children usually grow quite quickly until the age of about 13 (for girls) or 14 (for boys). They normally double their weight in the six years up to puberty. Growth starts to slow at that age, and has normally almost stopped by around 16 (for girls) or 17 (for boys).
  • The usual minimum age for driving cars is 17. But if you receive the higher rate of the mobility component of the Disability Living Allowance, you can drive at 16.

Tips for smoother travelling

  • Your disabled child may have specific needs for comfort, feeding, safety and so on. Prepare for these before you set out on your journey.
  • Make sure you have enough warm and dry clothes in case you have to make a stop somewhere in bad weather.
  • Pack any food and medical supplies you may need - and assume your journey will take longer than expected.
  • Make sure you have enough water.
  • Check that your mobile phone and any medical devices are fully charged.
  • The AA gives advice on what to check before setting off, and the supplies to carry in your car - see the AA's Seasonal driving advice pages.
  • To keep an eye on a child sitting in the back, you can attach an additional mirror to the windscreen or rear-view mirror.

There are other motoring guides which may be useful:

Acknowledgements: This guide was produced by the Research Institute for Disabled Consumers with funding from Motability and in partnership with Drive Mobility (formerly the Forum of Mobility Centres).

The Research Institute for Disabled Consumers is the UK’s leading expert in user-centred research involving disabled and older consumers. We have over 50 years’ experience of independent, specialist research.
This information is unbiased and we hope it will help you choose the right option to meet your needs. We don't sell products. Please search online by product name to find suppliers.

Last updated: August 2018


Introduction | Next: Choosing a family car