Safe and Happy Homes: Tips for Parents with Disabilities

According to the most recent statistics, there are more than four million parents with disabilities raising children in the United States. By most accounts, it's an underserved population, one with relatively few resources. By contrast, there's an abundant supply of online information about parenting children with disabilities, where to turn for advice, special equipment, and more. Parents with disabilities often have to rely on others in the disability community for advice on creating a safe and efficient home environment.

A parent with a disability with her daughter

Adaptive strategies

Many parents with disabilities find creative ways to adapt their homes and surroundings to the daily needs of parenting. After all, people with disabilities understand their needs best when it comes to caring for their kids. Brandeis University's Heller School for Social Policy and Management has compiled useful information about parents with disabilities who have found the most efficient ways to provide care. One parent who had struggled to cope with changing tables said she found it far easier to simply change her children's diapers on the floor. Another agreed, saying that ministering to her infant daughter on the floor made it easier for her to get up and down.

Adapting equipment

"Homespun" solutions are often the best (necessity being the mother of invention). When combined with special adaptive equipment, disabled parents can create a care environment that is as effective as any other. Some mothers with disabilities who have difficulty carrying and holding their children have adapted equipment to serve their particular needs.

One mother used a Boppy pillow as a kind of belt, strapping it around her waist so that she could safely hold her daughter in the pillow, which rested on her lap. Another parent securely fastened a car seat apparatus to the footrests on her wheelchair to increase mobility. Drop-down cribs are harder to find these days, but they make handy, ready-access items for parents who use wheelchairs.

Many nursing mothers use the My Breast Friend nursing pillow, which attaches around the waist with an easy snap belt. The Cursum stroller is a design concept for a two-wheeled baby-carrying device which attaches to the front of a wheelchair, allowing parents to keep a constant eye on the baby as they move around the house together. "Talking" thermometers and tactile medicine containers are valuable aids for parents with vision impairments.

Home safety

Planning for parenthood means providing a safe and healthful home environment. That's especially important for parents with disabilities, who need advanced warning in the event of an emergency. Make sure your home has good, working smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, and remember to check the batteries in each on a monthly basis. Keep your fire extinguisher in a convenient, easy-to-reach location (read the directions and make sure you know how to use one in advance). If you live in an earthquake zone, keep bookcases, large pieces of furniture, televisions, and other heavy equipment well-secured. Many can be anchored to a nearby wall.

If you have a baby or small child, be sure to remove small objects for your floor space and low-lying tables, cover all electrical outlets, and put all cords away. Remember that kids can be seriously injured if stairways aren't blocked off with a safety gate, so make sure yours are secured with gates at the top and bottom. Toilet lids should be kept closed and latched, and don't forget to keep all medications and hazardous substances, such as cleaning fluids, locked away out of reach.

Excellent parents

Statistics have shown that people with disabilities can be excellent parents. With careful planning and by anticipating potential problems, they can establish a safe and happy home for children of any age or size. Remember that the disabled parent community is an excellent source of information and support.

About the Author

Ashley Taylor is a disabled mother of two wonderful, amazing, energetic children. She met her husband, Tom, while doing physical therapy. Tom had suffered a spinal cord injury due to a car accident and uses a wheelchair for mobility. Ashley and Tom knew they wanted children and knew they would have to adapt their lives and home in order to make this dream come true. Ashley is happy to say that they are the proud parents of two healthy, wonderful children and their disabilities haven't stopped them from leaving a happy, fulfilling life.

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Date: 6/12/2018 12:00:00 AM

Bob maimbourg
What a fantastic picture!
3/30/2020 10:56:36 AM

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