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Preparing for Parenthood: Advice for disabled people

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Preparing for parenthood: Advice for disabled people

People with disabilities who have children face many of the same challenges that any parent faces. There’s a home to prepare, baby equipment to purchase, and new financial needs to be considered. The impending birth of a child means disabled parents have to get ready for being parents, not for being disabled. Their disabilities are a factor in preparations, but most disabled individuals live in homes that have already been modified to accommodate their physical challenges.

Nevertheless, there are certain needs that should be addressed. Disabled parents can care for their own children but may require equipment that makes it easier to perform parenting tasks that will be part of their lives for years to come. In some cases, resources and services are needed to make certain they are able to transport children as needed, or to obtain food and supplies in the event their mobility is limited. Such services are mandated by legislation that protects the rights of disabled parents and empowers them, but does not label them as incapable of caring for a child of their own.

Getting ready

Disabled parents often find that standard baby and childcare tools and equipment are ill-suited to their needs and may need to modify them. Consider any factors that might affect your ability to perform certain functions, and determine what kind of equipment you’ll need. For example, if you have difficulty using both hands, you may need baby carriers and chairs with extra space for bottles and other handheld items. Or you might need a specially adapted wheelchair that allows you to push or pull a baby stroller along with you.

Many commonly used baby care objects can be altered, or you may find equipment on the market that’s already well-suited to your needs. Parents who have a hearing impairment can purchase baby alarms and monitors with flashing lights that can easily be seen. If high chairs present a problem, look for one that can be adjusted to different heights and comes with lightweight parts that are easy to take off and clean. Adjustable cribs can make it easier to change diapers and move your baby in and out as needed. For more information about assistive devices, visit assistivetech.net, a free online resource with information on more than 20,000 products, vendors and more.

Baby safety

Take a common sense approach when it comes to baby- and child-proofing your home. Keep dangerous fluids and medications locked away and out of reach of little hands. Stairways should be blocked off with safety gates, and keep all external doors and floor-level windows locked. Make sure you cover or remove the knobs on your stove, and keep all sharp objects well out of reach.

Resources

There are many agencies, both private and government-funded, in the United States that provide services for disabled parents. Through the Looking Glass, a California-based pioneer in the rights of disabled persons, is a national resource for specially designed and fabricated equipment to help the disabled care for babies and children. At the state level, personal assistance services provide help with instrumental daily living activities like cooking, grocery shopping and cleaning, and can help disabled individuals find counseling services.

Self care

All parents need to pay attention to their own mental, emotional and physical needs so that they can provide the best care possible for their children. Parenting can be a very stressful responsibility, and it’s easy sometimes to become overwhelmed and get angry about insignificant issues. Abusing drugs or alcohol is a self-defeating and dangerous way to cope with the difficulties of parenthood.

Caring for your child is a round-the-clock job. Make sure to get as much rest as possible, and be honest with your spouse about your feelings and frustrations. Remember, it takes a team effort.

Courtesy of Pixabay.com.

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