Tue 03 Apr 2018
If you have a disability, I know you are used to facing challenges. Becoming a parent may involve unique issues for those with disabilities, but with some good planning and well-thought-out strategies, you can go into parenthood with confidence. I have some great advice for meeting your special challenges.
For those with accessibility issues, it’s important to prepare your home and your life for parenthood. You’ll be manoeuvring through your home with an infant, so creating an environment that is safe and secure is your first priority. Redfin notes a step-free entrance can be a boon, since you may be juggling groceries and car keys along with your little one. If stairs are present, consider removing them and installing a ramp. Eliminating any thresholds can help with getting in and out of the home as well, and if you are navigating with a wheelchair consider adding expandable hinges to doorways. Skid-resistant flooring such as vinyl or linoleum can be helpful in preventing slips. I especially love the idea of turning one of your rooms into a playroom. You can arrange all the furniture in the room along the walls and secure everything to studs. It allows you and your baby the bulk of the floor space to manoeuvre and play.
As some experts point out, many parents with disabilities face the bulk of their challenges during the earliest years of childhood. Those years when your little one is depending on you for basic needs are the tough ones. Thankfully there is a wealth of specialized equipment and creative ideas to help you through this time, and you are likely to think of your own adaptations as well. Here are some thoughts to consider:
A crib on castors allows for the crib to be more easily repositioned. You can slide it next to your own bed to save transferring issues during the night.
Cribs with adjustable heights can be manipulated into a position that makes lifting your baby easier.
You may prefer a crib with a door that swings open, or is designed with a foot-operated lever to unlock the door.
For the first six months or so, a pram might work as your baby’s bed, allowing for easy manoeuvrability.
Look for a crib mattress made with lightweight foam instead of springs. It’ll be easier to manipulate.
Some experts suggest baby gates that are specially designed for use by those with wheelchairs.
When selecting a playpen, look for one you can easily open and close.
Slings are very useful, allowing for you to have your hands free when your baby is small.
Carrying harnesses are a big help in many ways, also allowing you to have your hands free. Buckles and clips can be replaced with hook and loop closures.
Some strollers are specially designed for use with wheelchairs.
You may find it helpful to be assessed by an occupational therapist. Disabled Parent explains that an occupational therapist can evaluate your limitations and various parenting tasks to find out what support is needed. I also think it’s important to reach out to other parents with disabilities and organizations that can provide information and support. Sometimes you may need to bounce an idea around, or you may just want a shoulder to lean on. The internet offers many support groups and information, as well as a message board at The Disabled Parenting Project.
Becoming a parent is a new adventure, and I know it’s intimidating. With some home preparations and appropriate equipment, you’ll do just fine. Engage some of the great resources out there to help you along the way. Parenthood is a challenge, but you’ll find it’s an amazing and rewarding adventure!
Thank you to Ashley from http://disabledparents.org for this very hands-on article, please check out their website for more useful information.