Poster Session
Issue Date: August 2016
Published Online: August 01, 2016
Updated: January 01, 2021
Assessment of Transportation Safety for Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder
Author Affiliations
  • University of South Alabama
Article Information
Autism/Autism Spectrum Disorder / Pediatric Evaluation and Intervention / Prevention and Intervention
Poster Session   |   August 01, 2016
Assessment of Transportation Safety for Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, August 2016, Vol. 70, 7011515243.
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, August 2016, Vol. 70, 7011515243.

Date Presented 4/7/2016

Occupational therapists have the knowledge and skills to provide adequate caregiver instruction regarding transportation of children with autism spectrum disorder. Emphasis should be placed on adaptive equipment, environmental modifications, sensory strategies, and behavioral strategies.

Primary Author and Speaker: Donna Wooster

Contributing Authors: Marissa Bachar, Francesca Barrale, Allison Carroll, Meagan Floyd, Monica Landeche, Jordan Manning

PURPOSE: This study first identified transportation needs and knowledge of caregivers of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) via an online survey and next provided an educational presentation to address those needs.
RATIONALE: The risk of injury for children with ASD during transportation can be increased by the following factors: physical limitations, behavioral issues, and sensory processing dysregulation. Motor vehicle safety standards related to child safety restraints do not take into account the needs of children with disabilities. There is a need for resources and further research regarding the restraint of children with ASD in motor vehicles.
DESIGN: The research design was mixed methods consisting of two parts. First, an online survey was utilized and data analyzed to determine caregiver needs during transportation. Quantitative data analysis was conducted to rank order needs and concerns. Qualitative data analysis was conducted on open-ended responses to questions within the survey.
Next, an educational workshop was designed to address these needs. Topics within the presentation include adapted equipment, modifying the car environment, behavioral strategies for keeping children busy during transportation, and stress management for parents during transportation. Data were collected in form of pretest–posttest knowledge. Data were analyzed to determine the effectiveness of the educational program.
PARTICIPANTS: Forty-five caregivers completed the online survey. Twelve caregivers completed the educational presentation focused on identified transportation needs
METHOD: A researcher-designed online questionnaire was utilized to collect data from parents of children with ASD about their transportation needs. Closed-ended, rank-ordered, and open-ended questions were included. Knowledge of caregivers before and after the educational workshop was evaluated by multiple-choice question test scores.
RESULTS: Comparisons of pretest–posttest scores indicated statistically significant changes (p < .5) in knowledge related to safe transportation equipment, behavioral strategies, and sensory strategies.
CONCLUSION: Survey results supported the need of information regarding transporting children with ASD. The educational presentation was statistically significant for changing caregiver knowledge. Occupational therapists need to incorporate this information into occupational therapy treatments with families with children with ASD
DISCUSSION: This research indicates that occupational therapists are able to provide adequate caregiver education regarding safe transportation needs of children with ASD.
IMPACT STATEMENT: Keeping children safe during transportation is a concern for most parents. Children with ASD have sensory and behavioral issues that make it more complex to maintain them in appropriate child-safe restraint systems and keep them calm during transportation. Occupational therapists can provide caregiver education to minimize the risk of injury of the child and distraction of the adult during transportation.