Parents of children with special needs often worry about what would happen if an emergency situation occurred and they weren’t there to advocate for their child.
That’s exactly what happened with Natalie Bell of Victoria, Australia.
Her 10-year-old daughter, Shae, is deaf and has a cochlear implant. Although the implant allows Shae to hear, it has other medical implications. For example, if Shae was in a car accident and taken to the hospital, medical personnel might not know that she had an implant. That means they wouldn’t know not to perform certain head imaging tests.
“I always wonder what would happen if I was in a car accident with my daughter in the car and I was unable to let the doctors know that my daughter could not have an MRI due to having a cochlear implant,” said Bell.
But her solution has gone viral, sparking interest all around the globe.
Bell designed a Velcro strap that fits around a child’s seat belt. In large, noticeable letters, it spells out what the child’s special needs are. It’s designed to grab the attention of paramedics in the event of an accident, especially if the parent in the car in unresponsive.
Bell posted a picture of her daughter with the seat belt cover on.
Shae’s cover says, “I am deaf. I have a cochlear implant. No MRI.”
But after Bell posted the picture, the idea exploded. Now, she has an online store with a full range of personalized Velcro straps. They’re designed for riders with any medical condition or neurodiversity that would be a vital thing to know in an emergency.
“I have autism,” reads one. “I may resist help.”
Another says, “I am non-verbal and I have epilepsy.”
Others can be personalized to include the rider’s name, which may be helpful for a panicked person in the event of an emergency. An autistic child, for example, may feel less frightened if emergency personnel can call them by their name.
They can also be removed from seat belts and put on other personal items like bags and backpacks — and there are other products provided with the same general idea.
The letters are large and noticeable, but, as Bell says, that’s the whole point.
“These children might have a medical bracelet but those are quite small,” she said. “So, I thought this is something emergency services would notice straight away.”
The idea has proved so popular that Bell’s online store is now backed up with custom orders.
She’s still taking orders, but with the caveat that people might need to wait a while before they get what they paid for.
Emergency personnel is speaking up across the internet praising the idea and discussing how it would be helpful to have quick information about someone with special medical or neurological needs in an emergency.
And others have pointed out that these products aren’t just helpful for children, but also for adults with special needs, such as elderly riders who have dementia.
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