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From ‘stressful’ to supported: meeting Ashton’s car travel needs

Melbourne mum Sandy used to find it stressful and worrying to travel in the car with her then 14-month-old son Ashton, who has Down syndrome and uses a nasogastric tube, as his Australian standard car seat was not meeting his needs.

“We were constantly looking in the rear-view mirror making sure he’s OK,” Sandy said.

“Other than his specialist appointments I wouldn’t take him out in the car unless I had to.”

But thanks to the coordinated support of a network of professionals, it’s a very different story today. Ashton now travels easily and comfortably in a special purpose car seat.

“You just pop him in the car seat and off you go,” Sandy said.

The process of finding a suitable product for Ashton began with his Occupational Therapist, Lauren from Splash Paediatric Therapy, who assessed his motor vehicle transport needs and prescribed the HERO-NXT.

The HERO-NXT caters for younger children and comes with a unique swivel base and additional postural support features that aren’t available on Australian standard products.

Lauren was supported by MACA’s training course, Transporting Children with Disabilities and Medical Conditions, which is recommended for all health professionals in their prescribing role.

Active Rehab is a supplier of the HERO-NXT and worked with Lauren at Splash Therapy to arrange a trial of the special purpose car seat with Sandy and Ashton.

“We had come to the conclusion that there wasn't too much suitable for Ashton, so when I was told there was a new car seat to try, I thought ‘I’ll give it a go’,” Sandy said.

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Product importer Medifab Australia had only recently introduced the HERO-NXT into Australia as a result of the findings of MACA’s world-leading Australian Safety and Assessment Program (AuSAP) – which included sled-crash testing and the development of a comprehensive Product Guide.

“We’re thrilled that, through AuSAP, we have been able to expand our special purpose car seat range, including the HERO-NXT. This is the first car seat for young babies and children requiring specialised support when travelling in a car,” said Graham Mascull, Medifab’s Managing Director.

Lauren worked with Sandy to submit a funding application to the NDIS to purchase the HERO-NXT. The application was supported by comprehensive AuSAP information about the product and was quickly approved by the NDIS.

Once it arrived, William from Active Rehab installed the car seat and gave education to Sandy on the installation and features.

“At Active Rehab, we pride ourselves on working together with allied health professionals and families to support children like Ashton to travel safely and comfortably on our roads,” William commented.

For Christmas that year – just weeks after receiving Ashton’s special purpose car seat – Sandy and her family were able to jump in the car and visit friends around four hours’ drive away.

“That was our first family trip,” she said.

“Travelling used to be stressful, but now we don’t have to think about it anymore.”

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We pay respect to the Traditional Custodians of all lands, past, present & future. Honouring all Elders and nurturing all young people.