Listen. Autism involves a lot of urinary incontinence, poop-flinging and sometimes it’s just plain old messy.
I know this will sound crazy but I was blessed by a puddle of pee yesterday and I am praying you will read this and receive the good juju from it as well.
RM has been potty-training at school for the last month or so and has found a great deal of success. However, toileting is a long process for many of our kids with autism so RM wears underwear during the school day but wears a pull-up to prevent accidents while she is riding the van back and forth.
The other day RM came home from school completely soaked. She had left school in underwear instead of a pull-up. A minor oversight. Nothing to freak out over.
I sent a text message to the van monitor and asked her to check the car seat to see if it was wet. It was. The van came back by and I grabbed the car seat out of the back so that I could wash the cover before school the next morning.
By the time the van pulled away again I was shaking. I had turned the seat over to take off the cover and on the label found the manufacture date – 1998! My child had been riding in a car seat that was several years past expiration. Did you know car seats expire? AND I learned that my daughter was TEN pounds and FOUR inches over its limit. I. WAS. PISSED.
I called the transportation company and spoke to “Candy”, the manager. I had previously spoken to her about a proper child safety seat for RM way back in April, a week before she started at her current school. I had given this woman RM’s height and weight and advised her that RM needed a 5-point-harness seat rated for up to at least 65 pounds. She said, ‘Absolutely’.
Pay close attention to what I am about to admit to, because I pray no one else falls into this trap themselves.
From the first day the van arrived to take my child to school, more than 15 miles away through three towns and over two major highways, I had my doubts that the seat RM was riding in was the right one for her. But I said nothing to the company about the seat she was given because I wanted to start off on a good foot and build a peaceful relationship with the folks transporting my baby every day. DO NOT MAKE THE SAME MISTAKE.
Any persons responsible for transporting your child to and from school MUST follow all child safety seat regulations. The seat must be the proper type, size and rated specifically to meet the weight and height of your child. If your child is over 40 pounds and 40 inches tall – they MUST be provided a larger convertible seat (most this size can be used with a 5-point harness up to weights of 65-80 pounds or as a belt-positioning booster up to 100 pounds). EVERY SEAT has a label usually underneath or along the side that lists the date of manufacture, the expiration date (usually about 6 years) and the weight and height limits. All seats and vehicles being used to transport students should be equipped with the LATCH system.
PLEASE! Check your child’s seating on school transportation and ALWAYS remain aware of the child safety seats you use in your own vehicles. Does your child still meet the weight and height requirements? Is your seat installed properly? Are you securing the buckles and chest straps in the correct position?
If you are unsure of the child safety seat being used for your child, contact your local police department. Most departments have at least one member dedicated to performing child safety seat inspections and you can request a free inspection not only for your personal vehicle, but for your child’s school transportation as well.
Do not take for granted that your child is being properly secured in an appropriate child safety seat.
I am so grateful for that puddle of pee.
[Ed note: I failed to mention that after I ripped “Candy” a new one, I nearly choked when she spoke of her intent to ‘dispose of the seat when it is returned’. NO WAY, LADY. We threw that 13-year-old piece of crap seat in the garbage ourselves. I shudder to think of the child it would have been used with next. No way.]