Photo 1: American Sales Inflatable Pull Sled
I came across a sales flyer today that had a great item for special needs kids. This is a 33 Inch Inflatable Pull Sled. The reason that I think it would work well is because it has a tall back. If you look at the photo, the back comes to the top of the child's head. I checked the reviews and they said that it was perfect for an 18 month old child. You may need to review the dimensions to see if it would work for your child. This sled is offered by American Sales. The regular price is $29.99 and it's on sale for $19.99. You can see this sled and purchase it here. This sled comes in two styles-see the photo above and the photo below.
Photo 2: American Sales Inflatable Pull Sled
The reason this sled would work well, is that if you have a child that has poor trunk control or poor head control, the sled would support the child's head and body and it would be soft. A child with poor trunk control or poor head control needs more support not less. This sled allows for maximum support. You can see that a bit in the first photo, where it looks like the child is almost leaning back; that is how a special needs child would look in the sled whereas in the second photo, you can clearly see that this child can sit up on his own. I would imagine it would help if you had a strap of sorts to secure your child even more. If your child receives any kind of physical therapy, you probably already have something like that.
I went on the internet to see if I could find other sleds that had a tall back like this one, however I could not. Most of the sleds that have "any" back at all, only come to the middle of the child's back. You can see in this next photo how the back is not tall enough to support a special needs child's torso nor is it tall enough to provide support for a child's head. If you do choose a wooden sled like this for a child, you would need to make certain that the wood is strong enough to support a child. Many of these wooden sleds have sides that are flimsy and aren't designed to hold a child in place.
This is so aggravating to me because it wouldn't take a lot for manufacturer's to make sleds with taller backs to support the kids. What I have learned over the years, is that when you make items that work well for special needs kids, it's also preferable for all kids. I remember years ago taking Dear Son to the park to swing. He required one of the swings with the tall backs that would support his torso and head. While there were many regular swings available, most kids and parents preferred the swings with the taller backs. It would be wonderful if manufacturers started with a concept of universal design then designed toys for kids based on that.
As for the sled, this goes without saying however I imagine you will be pulling your child in this sled, not sending a special needs child down a hill in it. I doubt a special needs child would have any skills to be able to stop themselves if they tipped over in it. I would also recommend a helmet as well.
I remember taking Dear Son sledding around the house in one of the wooden sleds with a back on the sled, similar to the photo above where the back only went up half way. This was all they had some twenty years ago. It didn't provide enough support and when I pulled the sled, it stuck a bit and the first thing that happened was that he went face first in the snow and he hated sledding after that, lol. That's all part of experiencing new things. As parents of special needs kids, we have to walk a fine line between letting our kids experience things like snow and sledding and understanding that the sled might tip over and they might get snow on their faces. This is very different however than sending them down a hill on a sled. If you want them to experience that, then the mother or the father gets on a toboggan, holding the kid securely in front and you go down a small hill.
Here's hoping you get a chance to get outdoors a bit and enjoy the winter weather.