When you’re expecting your first child, your life can be filled with excitement and anxiety. Many parents fret over the best way to set up a child’s room, from color choice to the safety of cribs and toys. But, for a parent with disabilities, the challenges can seem overwhelming. With some planning and reaching out to available resources, however, the transition to new parent can be easier than feared, even for those who are disabled.
Parenting can be difficult regardless of your abilities
Non-disabled people often marvel at how people with sensory or mobility problems manage
their day-to-day tasks - and they are right; the number of accomplishments of people with
disabilities is astounding. Those with all sorts of limitations work in all industries, such as law,
technology, education, the arts and laboring. A blind man has even summited Mount Everest.
As tricky as parenting can sometimes be, its challenges are insignificant compared to some of
these achievements. Preparing to be a parent with any disability requires understanding your
limitations and how they will impact child rearing and an action plan. Unless your disability is a
recent occurrence in your life, you likely already understand the changes that you need to make in your environment.
Tools for making disabled parenting easier
Luckily, numerous products are available to make your home not only accessible for you, but
also for the tasks that you need to do as a parent. These include grab bars for tubs and showers which will help you bathe your children. Walk through the process beforehand, practicing and learning what adaptability tools may be necessary for you to change, bathe and feed an infant. Another piece of accessibility equipment is a monitoring system that is adapted to any sensory challenges you may have. For example, if you are hearing-impaired, a video baby monitor or a monitoring system that flashes when it detects noise can be helpful.
If there are mobility concerns, non-slip rugs and mats can help keep your home accident-free
and allow you to move more freely through your home with your child. Infant equipment such as car seats and cribs can be optimized for ease of use from a wheelchair as well. These
accessibility tools are not expensive and are easily incorporated into most homes. For those
whose homes may need more extensive modifications, such as installing lower sink cabinet
bases that are wheelchair-accessible, assistance might be available.
And some of the techniques that you already use will be helpful if you apply them to baby items. Visually impaired people often keep track of medications and food with a braille labeling system. By similarly labeling baby food, you can ensure an extra level of safety for your child.
Disability is not always a challenge for parenting
Although you may be scared as a first-time parent, be comforted by the fact that many have
come before you. People with your same disability have parented successfully, and if you reach
out to your available resources, you may be able to get some tips directly from others. And
beyond inspiration and helpful tips, some who have parented with a disability before have noted that, rather than being a challenge, the disability brought them closer to their children. Children of parents who have a disability often take on additional responsibilities earlier in their lives, and a system of cooperation between parent and child flourishes in a way that is beneficial for both.
Parenting causes trepidation. It is full of unknowns. So, too, is living with a disability. You've
conquered life in the face of your limitations by knowing yourself, adapting your environment,
and planning your life. These same techniques will help you handle parenting, and when you
feel lost, reach out to others who can help you and learn from their mistakes and examples.