By: Ashley Taylor
Parenting is challenging, but for parents with a disability, there are many unforeseen hurdles that must be conquered. There are thousands of parenting resources out there, but for a parent with a disability, the obstacles you face when raising a child will be unique to you. For people who have issues with mobility, hearing, vision, or mental health, caring for a child requires adaptations. It may seem daunting or intimidating at first, but your disability does not have to stand between you and your dream of becoming a parent. Simple accessibility modifications to your home and your routine can empower your ability to provide a safe, loving environment for a child. You can create a home that supports your growth as a parent with:
Raised cribs with a gated front that opens up on a hinge, allowing parents in wheelchairs easier access for putting their baby to sleep.
Calm, serene meditation areas to help ease stress and anxiety.
Ovens, stoves, fire extinguishers, and smoke detectors at heights that allow parents in wheelchairs accessibility to quickly handle burning food or fires. For parents with hearing loss, alarms that vibrate and light up can help alert you to safety concerns.
Grab bars and handrails in and around areas where falls or slips are a risk, including near the bathtub to help you safely bathe your child.
Wheelchair ramps at entrances and exits with stairs.
Eliminating tripping hazards from worn, torn, or peeling rugs or carpet. It’s also important you teach your children to pick up toys off the floor to reduce the risk of falling or tripping.
Natural lighting in as many rooms as possible to help reduce the feelings of sadness and hopelessness that often accompany depression.
Contrasting colors on floors and walls to help parents with low vision designate and find different areas for play, napping, eating, and cuddling.
Non-slip rugs and mats that can help reduce the risk of a fall.
Braille and textured labels for food and snacks to help you — and your child — plan recipes and cook meals.
Backyard fencing that keeps your kids in specific safe zones where you can reach them quicker in case of an injury or emergency.
Audio temperature gauges on faucets and other hot water areas to help parents with vision impairments control how hot the water can get.
Raised toilet seats for accessible potty training.
Velcro bibs, large buttons, and easy-gripped zippers to make taking clothing on and off, which is easier for people with severe arthritis and other joint mobility issues.
Soft structured baby carriers for parents with back injuries.
Children watch the world around them, including the people in it. It won’t take long for them to notice their mom or dad is different, and they will likely ask you why. Having a parent with a disability is a great learning experience for children and adults, which is why it is important to talk to your kids about both your disability and disabilities in general. This can help your child value your abilities above your disability and understand the importance of having empathy for people who are different. For example, if there is a child in a wheelchair or with a hearing impairment in their class, your child can model compassion and inclusivity for other students.
Even though it may seem like you are alone in these experiences, there is a lot of support out there if you look for it. From groups of other parents with disabilities to reinforcement from your work or church, you can find people going through similar situations who are ready to support and encourage you on your journey into parenthood.