• Travel, Vacation, Car Modifications, Driving

    For the child with special healthcare needs, arranging for safe and reliable transportation and making special preparations before travel can present some unique challenges. The Complex Care Center at Cincinnati Children's helps families plan ahead for safe transportation and travel.

  • Purchasing and modifying a car or van is an involved process. Since vehicle modifications can be expensive, it is well worth your time to be prepared and to research all options:

    • Have your needs evaluated by a professional, such as your doctor, physical therapist, or occupational therapist. They can recommend types of adaptations would best suit your needs.   
    • Select a vehicle that will meet your needs. One of the best resources is other families. They will be able to provide you with valuable tips and ideas. Check with companies that do vehicle accommodations to see what they recommend.
    • Once you have chosen the type of vehicle that you would like to purchase, choose a reliable dealer who either has experience in adapting vehicles or who has a relationship with companies that do modifications.
    • Research funding options. There are various funding resources that may be available, including grants from non-profit organizations, car manufacturer rebate programs, private insurance, Medicaid and funding through your county board of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities. Check with your bank or credit union to see what special loan options are available.

    Information on modifications and wheelchair accessible vans, including adapted equipment and financing, is available from the following resources:

    • Access Unlimited specializes in creating products that allow easy access to any vehicle including cars, trucks, vans and SUVs.
    • The American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD), together with Digital Federal Credit Union (DCU), offers mobility loans for AAPD members. Loan arrangements allow for the purchase of expensive mobility equipment at smaller, more affordable monthly payments.
    • AMS Vans, Inc. sells wheelchair accessible conversion minivans and offer nationwide delivery.
    • Automotive Safety Issues for Persons with Disabilities provides information about current regulations and standards, as well as access to reports and other consumer information.
    • Avis rents vehicles that can be adapted for children and adults with special health care needs.
    • Disability Rights Ohio provides information on accessible vehicles, disability parking permits, medical considerations and public transportation.
    • Disabled Dealer provides an internet listing of used wheelchair accessible vans for sale by geographical area.
    • First Hand Foundation provides grants for eligible children whose clinical, health care needs are not adequately covered by insurance and state aid. They can assist with vehicle modifications including expenses associated with lifts, ramps and transfer boards. The child must be 18 years of age or younger (a child 18 – 21 can be considered if under the care of a pediatrician and in a child-like state) and the family must meet financial guidelines
    • Ford Motor Company Mobility Motoring offers financial assistance of up to $1,000 for the installation of adaptive equipment, and up to $200 on alerting devices for hearing impairments, lumbar seats and running boards on new Ford Motor Company vehicle purchases or leases.
    • Liberty Motor Company, Inc. operates on their founding principle of "accessibility at a reasonable cost."  New and used wheelchair-accessible vans available.
    • M.C. Mobility sells and rents customized wheelchair accessible vans and offers a wide variety of products to modify your existing vehicle.
      • Ability Van Rentals is their wheelchair accessible van rental division in Ohio. They frequently have discount packages available. 
    • MobilityWorks provides a wide range of services including the purchase of new or used conversion vans, adaptation of a currently owned vehicle and financial counseling. MobilityWorks delivers nationwide and has local representatives.
    • National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association (NMEDA) has information on choosing the best vehicle, buying adaptive equipment and finding financial assistance. 
    • Vehicle Modifications to Accommodate People with Disabilities has information about laws, regulations and adaptive equipment.
    • Wheelchair Getaways has accessible van rentals for people with disabilities. Locations and contact information are provided for each state. 
    • Trauma Services at Cincinnati Children's, through the Comprehensive Children's Injury Center (CCIC), provides information to help you choose the correct car seat for your child’s age, weight and height and meet the requirements of the state where you live, and has information on car seat fitting stations and injury prevention tips. They can also assist with modifications for special healthcare needs. Contact the CCIC by calling 636-7865.
    • Families can now purchase car seats, helmets, smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors and other home safety items at the Family Resource Center, located in Location A on the main concourse. Families and employees can purchase safety products from 9:30 am to 6 pm, Monday through Friday or by calling 636-7606.

    Many people with physical disabilities can learn to drive safely with the right training and equipment.

    Planning vacations for you and your special-needs child offers unique challenges, such as finding wheelchair-accessible attractions and activities. Here are some resources that provide information and articles for the disabled traveler:

    • Check with your physician for the necessary precautions, immunizations and / or medications for your destination.
    • Accessible Journeys is a travel agency that designs custom, wheelchair-accessible vacations and escorts groups on accessible cruises and tours exclusively for slow walkers, wheelchair travelers, their families and their friends.
    • Moss Rehab Resource Net offers general help with making travel plans, but they are not a travel agency. The web site provides tips, checklists and other useful information. 
    • Scootaround is a company that arranges scooter and wheelchair rentals in over 500 locations across North America and around the world. The web site also provides additional resources for special-needs travel.
    • Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has a detailed section for Travelers with Disabilities and Medical Conditions.
    • Wheelchairs On the Go is Florida's only access guide for visitors and residents who use canes, walkers or wheelchairs or simply can't walk far.
    • Wheelchair Getaways has accessible van rentals for people with disabilities. Locations and contact information are provided for each state.
    • Wunago offers information about wheelchair-accessible places to visit and stay around the world.

    It is important that families of children with special health care needs make preparations well before traveling to make sure that their child receives the proper care should acute problems arise. Plan ahead and keep these tips in mind to help make travel easier:

    • Travel with a detailed and current medical summary, plan of care and contact information on all providers:
    • National Center for Medical Home Initiatives has examples of care notebooks to keep track of important papers.
    • EMS Emergency Information Form for Children with Special Needs, developed by the American College of Emergency Physicians and the American Academy of Pediatrics can be a helpful organization tool.
    • When traveling by plane, keep your medications in your carry-on bag for easy access during the flight and to protect against loss if your luggage doesn't arrive. This will also prevent exposure to extreme temperatures in the baggage compartment, which can reduce the effectiveness of some medications.
    • Be prepared to provide airport security with a copy of your prescription if you use medication that requires a syringe.
    • Carry your pharmacy's phone number and list of your prescriptions in case you lose your medication.
    • If your trip requires changes in time zones, consult your physician to see if the timing and dosage should be adjusted.
    • Beware of buying over-the-counter medications in foreign countries. Some could have different ingredients that could cause allergic reactions or complications with drug interactions.
    • Keep your medications out of direct sunlight if you are traveling in a hot, humid climate. Excessive heat can reduce the effectiveness of some medications. Avoid storing medications in the glove compartment of your car.
    • Take along more medication than the number of days you plan to be away so that you will be prepared for unexpected delays.
    • Some medications can cause increased sensitivity to sunlight and may require increased sunscreen protection.
    • Call your insurance providers to clarify what coverage they have when traveling out of your network area and be specific in relating your itinerary, especially if you are traveling out of state or out of the country. Ask for written documentation and record the insurance representative's name, department and extension.
    • Obtain a list of the nearest appropriate hospitals, physicians and durable medical equipment (DME) contacts for all cities / regions you are visiting. Bring an adequate supply of medications, special nutritional items and equipment before leaving.
    • Thoroughly investigate all aspects of your trip to make sure that your child's disability can be accommodated.
    • Many children with special health care needs have difficulty with travel and need frequent stops as well as an ample supply of snacks, games, toys and other distractions. Also be aware that some children may need adjustments in their medications.
  • Contact Us

    We want to hear from you. Email us with your feedback or suggestions for additional resources. Call our Family Resource Center at 513-636-7606 with your questions.