Parents with Disabilities:
Home Preparation for Your Newborn
By some estimates, 22 per cent of adults in the United States have a disability. That’s nearly 1 in 5 people over the age of 18. A disability is an impairment to somebody’s sensations or movements or capacity to function. Disabilities can include hearing or vision troubles, difficulty concentrating or remembering, or an inability to walk or to climb stairs.
Living with a disability presents unique challenges, so becoming a parent as a disabled person necessitates special planning for the arrival of your newborn. Here are some tips on resources to access and preparations to turn your home into a safe place for your future children.
Making Your Home Safer
Any good parent wants to provide a safe home for his or her children. Precautions that parents without limitations take include testing smoke alarms, locking away medicines and building fences around pools. However, as a parent with a disability, the safety measures you take may be even more extensive than usual. Not only should you childproof your house, you should also ensure that it’s arranged in a way that maximises your ability to move around within it.
If you’re in a wheelchair, or your ambulation is constrained, for instance, make sure you have ready access to your child’s room. That might even mean knocking down a wall and combining your bedroom with the nursery or putting the cradle or bassinet next to your bed. Keep a baby monitor with you and turn up the volume if you have hearing problems so you know whenever your baby is crying or awake.
A routine—wake up, bottle, playtime, nap, repeat—calms infants and indicates when they’re going to be hungry, sleepy, grumpy and so on. If you struggle with memory problems, consider asking a relative to help you maintain that routine. Alternatively, you could hire a nanny or a professional caregiver. If that’s not in the budget, mount a whiteboard as a centrepiece and make a list detailing your new (and 24/7) schedule, so that it’s in front of you all the time.
Currently, there are about 4.1 million parents with disabilities in the United States. That statistic accounts for roughly 6.2 per cent of parents who have children younger than 18 years. This means that plenty of resources exist for parents with disabilities. These include databases containing the contact information of disability community organisations, links to advocacy programs and ‘Know Your Rights’ toolkits.
‘Through the Looking Glass’, for example, a disability awareness non-profit offers services to parents and children with developmental or ongoing difficulties. You could participate in a parent support group. Or, a social worker might visit your home to facilitate a nurturing rapport between parent and child. You also might be invited to sign up for ‘Chatterbox’, a playgroup that facilitates communication between children and parents with intellectual disabilities. Although ‘Through the Looking Glass’ is based in California, other programs nationwide serve families with some disability with similar expertise.
Saving for IVF Treatments
According to Qunomedical, the ‘success and availability of in vitro fertilisation (IVF) have given hope to many infertile couples who have not been able to conceive. Since 1978, 5.4 million babies have been born worldwide with the help of IVF’. The cost of an IVF cycle could easily run to about US$20,000. However, for the last 30 years, 15 states have passed legislation ratifying that insurers either cover or offer coverage for infertility treatment.
Other options include grants or ICF refund programs, or, if possible, negotiate a payment plan between you and your partner to set aside money for the cost.
Unfortunately, the term ‘disability’ still carries a certain stigma, but the truth is that many people live with disabilities. They hold down jobs and careers and contribute to society. Yours will be no different. Just be sure to draw on the resources at your disposal and plan according to your needs, so that your home will be the ideal place to raise a healthy, loving family.