A quick internet search for tips for new parents reveals an endless amount of information, from how-tos and tips, what to expect, and even a funny horror story or two. Unfortunately, most of this information is geared toward parents in general, but as a disabled parent, your situation is a little different. Although both unique and beautiful, it creates some challenges – challenges the world wide web often doesn’t cover. While the tips here might not cover every single obstacle
you are facing or concern you have, it will certainly leave you feeling a little more prepared for parenthood.
The Financial Aspect
It seems that just about everything in life comes with a financial piece, and becoming a parent is no different. The decision to have a child is a big one, but once that decision is made, it’s time to start saving up, especially if you will be going a slightly different route to bring home your little one. According to Qunomedical, “The success and availability of in vitro fertilization 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”. Due to its high success rate, it is a great option for all individuals trying to conceive, including those who are disabled. Whether you are saving up for IVF treatments, adoption costs, or a labor and delivery stay, it’s a good idea to start your financial planning early.
Take a look at your current budget and factor in extra expenses, including those that will occur after you bring your child home such as food, clothing, diapers, toys, healthcare, childcare, etc. Now is also a great time to look into benefits that may help you and your child financially. For example, did you know that if you received Social Security disability benefits, your child might be eligible to receive them too? The amount your child is eligible to receive can be up to half of
your monthly amount, which will go a long way in making sure your child is provided for.
Make Proper Adjustments
Regardless of whether or not you were born with your disability or just recently became disabled, you aren’t a stranger to making adjustments in order to keep living your life just like everyone else. When it comes to parenting, the same concept applies. As you prep your home for two extra feet, think about the modifications you might need to make in order to make things a little easier and safer. Perhaps you need to build a nursery/bedroom on the first floor for quick
and easy access or install gates in stairways and off-limit rooms to prevent quick feet from making a break for it.
Depending on the type of disability you have, there are various adapted products to make parenting easier. If you are a wheelchair user, you might find items such as a side-opening crib, sling/chest harness, or a swiveling car seat to be extremely useful. There are helpful products for the visual and hearing impaired too, such as the babble band – a wearable bracelet monitor that can be programed to light up or vibrate when your child makes a noise. There are also
various baby monitors that now come with cameras for a real-time view of what your child is up to. In addition, if you have a service dog, they can be trained to be your second set of eyes and ears. Keep in mind that if you have a spouse or partner who isn’t disabled, they will be one of your largest supporters, and can help you to adapt to new situations and experiences as they arise.
Becoming a parent is a wonderful, exciting, and rewarding experience. As a disabled parent there will be struggles, but with the proper planning, resources, and tools, there is nothing stopping you.
Ashley Taylor is a freelance writer, photographer, and advocate for people with disabilities. She created DisabledParents.org to provide information and resources to other parents with disabilities. When she isn’t working, she enjoys spending time with her husband and two children.