How to Keep an Autistic Child in Their Car Seat

You’re driving 60 miles per hour on the highway when you look into your rear view mirror and see your autistic child wriggling out of their five point harness, and with a simple click, they’re free. You panic. What do you do? It’s miles before the next exit. The solution – prevent it from happening.

We tried everything we could think of. Rewards, punishment, pulling the car over, you name it. My autistic six-year-old son still kept unbuckling his car seat. Determined to figure out a way to keep him in, I researched several products and made two small purchases that did the job! Now he can’t get out of his car seat AND I can drive without having to worry.

Car Seat Buckle Guard

This product prevents your child from unclicking the five point harness. Installation takes seconds. You simply remove the buckle and slide it through the guard. The opening underneath allows an adult to either slip their finger in to unlock it or the product comes with a key (or you can use any round thin object like a pen) to insert into the front hole to unlock the buckle. The child can’t get their fingers into it. You do want to check which car seat buckles the device works with as some buckles are too large to fit into the guard.

Car Seat Buckle Guard

Belt Buckle Shield

Belt Buckle Shield

The belt buckle shield prevents your child from unattaching their carseat from the seat buckle. You simply unbuckle the latch, put the shield over the buckle and re-insert the seatbelt. To unattach, push a key or other slender object through its the opening.

Safety Sticker

As I began to search Amazon for car seat safety products, I came across window clings such as the one below. These are a great idea, because if you happen to get into an accident and your autistic child is approached by first responders, they will understand what to expect. Especially, if for some reason, you are not able to speak on our child’s behalf.

Safety Sticker

Other Things to Keep in Mind for Car Seat Safety

In addition to the products listed above, the following will also help keep your child safely in their car seat.

  • For front-facing car seats, be sure the chest straps are positioned either at or just above your child’s shoulders.
  • Make sure the straps are as snug as a hug. You should be able to get no more than two fingers between the straps and your child’s collarbone.
  • Straps should not be twisted.
  • Chest clip should be positioned level with the child’s armpits.
  • Remove bulky clothing such as thick jackets before buckling your child in their carseat. Straps should be as close to child as possible.

For more information on car seat safety, please visit the United States Department of Transportation‘s National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration.

Disclaimer: The advice in this post is not an endorsement for any of the products, or information presented. Use of products or recommendations are at your own risk. Please check with your car seat manufacturer before using any of the products listed. Please note, there are no federal regulations on these types of products and car seat makers do not crash test using these products.

Published by

Amy Nielsen

Amy Nielsen is a former children's librarian of nearly twenty years. She now spends most of her time obsessively pounding on a keyboard. She is the author of It Takes a Village: How to Build a Support System for Your Exceptional Needs Family, Goldilocks and the Three Bears: Understanding Autism Spectrum Disorder. Her upcoming YA Worth it debuts in May of 2024. She is also a freelance writer for The Autism Helper. When she's not writing, she and her family are most likely crusing the waters of Tampa Bay.