Utter Autism

July 22, 2007

Using a Wheelchair

Filed under: Autism, Family Life With Autism, Parenting Autistic Children — Carol @ 9:58 pm

Planning this next trip to Disney reminded me that we stumbled across the benefits of a wheelchair because of our experiences our first trip to Disney.

Adrian was about 5 then.  We got to Orlando in the afternoon and couldn’t resist taking the kids into the park right away.  But with only a few hours till closing, we decided it wasn’t worth the money to rent a stroller.  We did a few rides and Adrian seemed to be having a pretty good time.  But then it happened.  He was overwhelmed with all the stimulation.  It was like a storm coming, you could see it happening but I was helpless to stop it.  I tried to sit down with him, get him calm…. but it was hopeless.  He ended up in a full blown tantrum in the middle of the park.

At that point we weren’t sure if this whole Disney trip was going to work out.  How could we control all the stimulation?

The next day we rented the stoller.  They have the kind that has a shade over the top providing a cocoon type feel.  It did the trick.  Anytime we noticed Adrian getting overwhelmed we’d encourage him to get in.  He even got in himself when it was loud or crowded.  That stroller provided a place for him to calm himself down, get away from all the stimulation.  We’d stumbled on to something big.

At home we had difficulty bringing Adrian to certain stores.  The lights, sounds and spaces were just too much for him to handle.  Remembering our success with the stroller we looked for a similar solution.  Specialty strollers that would hold a child his size were large and we thought they looked odd.  A wheelchair was just the ticket!

The armrests helped close him in and helped prevent him from becoming overwhelmed the environment, just like the stroller at Disney had done. 

The wheelchair had other benefits as well.  A belt helped us keep him from running away from us – a major safety issue.   It also gave him a lap to hold a CD or DVD player, allowing him to block out even more of his environment when he needed to.

I still remember walking into a certain store that had sent Adrian into fits multiple times before and watching in amazement as he sat in his wheelchair, happy as could be.

We’ve owned a reasonably priced wheelchair now for about 4 years now and I wouldn’t be without it.  As far as I’m concerned it’s a crucial peice of equipment that allows Adrian to enjoy our family outings.


  1. Thank you so much for giving me the solution that I have been searching for! My son is 6 and the light of our lives. He has some times when he has a melt down but not very bad ones. The problem we have is that going anywhere he tries to take off in his own direction which is so scary in todays times. I find myself holding onto him and trying to keep him happy and most of the time still putting him in the child seat of the grocery store buggies. He is really getting to big for this so I was starting to wonder what to do next. I could not find any strollers that would accomodate a 5o to 60 pound boy. The wheelchair is an excellent idea. Do you have any recommendations as to a particular type and where did you get yours? Thanks again so much!

    Comment by Alana Arabie — April 25, 2008 @ 12:23 pm

  2. We ordered a transport wheelchair from http://www.spinlife.com

    Transport is good cause they’re lighter and it doesn’t have the big wheel, so he can’t push himself away.

    Spinlife had a good selection and good prices. When it’s time for a replacement, we’ll be going back.

    By the way, grocery stores usually have wheelchair with carts on the front – give those a try too!

    Comment by Carol — April 25, 2008 @ 2:54 pm

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