Children with autism, even autistic adults often create strong attachments to specific items. So in selecting a new backpack for your child be sure to consider how suitable it will be for the long haul.
- How sturdy is it?
- Will it remain age appropriate?
- Have you considered the safety implications?
When choosing a backpack for your child, be sure to keep safety in mind.
With the heavy load of books that children have to carry around in school, it is no wonder that safety is becoming more of an issue in regards to backpacks. Because muscles are still forming throughout childhood, it is important to choose a backpack that will carry the weight of the books rather than put stress on your child’s back.
Keeping these safety tips in mind and instilling them will ensure that your child’s back, neck and shoulders will not suffer any long term damage.
Here are some things to look for when choosing a backpack for safety:
* Choose a backpack that is designed to carry a heavy load of books without stressing out your child’s body. Buying backpacks with wide straps helps to even out the weight and avoids the straps digging into your child’s shoulders. For younger children, a waist belt helps to even out the weight and runs less risk of putting too much stress on the back.
* Choose lighter weight materials such as canvas. Leather backpacks are very nice looking, but they weigh a lot more than typical canvas bags.
* Many backpacks offer compartments in the middle as well as on either side of the bags. Have your child utilize these compartments as it will spread the weight out instead of having it centralized in one area.
* Ensure your child’s backpack is not too heavy. It is recommended that the weight of the full backpack should not exceed 10-15% of your child’s body weight. Carrying more than that can result in nerve compression as well as deformed back growth such as rounded shoulders. It can also tire out the muscles quickly.
* Make sure your child wears their backpack as designed with both straps on the shoulders. Older teens will sometimes sling the backpack over one shoulder. While this may be convenient for them, it is bad for their posture as well as shoulder and neck muscles. The weight will be unevenly distributed and can strain the neck and shoulder muscles if worn in this manner.
- For younger children you may want to consider a bag that has wheels and can be pulled like a suitcase.
- Some autistic children favor one side or find it almost impossible to have anything touching a part of the body. If this is the case, you may need to be creative.
- The number one sign your child is not using one shoulder is to regularly check where the straps meet the bag. Besides the zippers, this is one of the first areas where a backpack begins to wear out. If you notice this happening, you can intervene.
* Many backpacks now come with reflectors for safety. If it doesn’t, be sure it will be easy to add some without upsetting your autistic child.
* Finally a cost more than a safety tip… spend a little extra to get a good quality bag. Check the strength of the zippers and seems more than the price tag. Otherwise you may end up having to spend quite a bit repairing the bag when your autistic child will not use any other.