Transportation Options for Nondrivers with Multiple Disabilities
If your child is a nondriver, he might choose to use a variety of transportation options throughout his adolescence and adulthood. The options he will use with support and those he’ll use independently, if any, will depend on his abilities and needs. Beginning in preschool or elementary school, you can expose him to the options he may one day use to go to school, recreational activities, shopping, appointments, work, or an adult day program. He may be able to use one or more options for specific purposes, to travel from your home to his job site, or to go from his group home to his doctor’s office. Learning fixed routes for travel will increase his independence.
When your child is young, consider traveling as a family using public transportation in your community. Even if you drive a car, you can plan a monthly outing where you and your child take the public bus or a taxi. Involve him in these outings by having specific things for him to do, such as paying the bus fare and handing the driver a card telling what stop he needs to be let off at or figuring out the amount of money to give the taxi driver for the fare. Over time you can increase the amount of responsibility your child has when the two of you travel.
Most communities have a paratransit service that provides transportation for people with disabilities or elderly individuals for a reduced price. Speak with the O&M specialist to learn about paratransit in your community, or call the local bus or train company to ask if there is a paratransit alternative. When your child is in high school, consider registering him for your local paratransit service. This typically will involve obtaining an application, getting a signature from your child’s doctor to verify his disability, and possibly having your child interviewed or evaluated to determine his eligibility for the service. Most paratransit companies allow riders to have one person with them when they travel, so you can go with your child on the paratransit van or car. As with other forms of transportation, consider having a monthly outing using this method of travel so that your child becomes familiar with it. As the service provides door-to-door transportation and is designed for people with disabilities, it may be a very viable option for your child to use as a teenager and into adulthood.
For more information, see Foundations of Education, Volume II, A. Koenig & C. Holbrook (Eds.)