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Guest blogger Ashley Taylor from disabledparents.org offers advice and information for parents in the US - some great tips here wherever you live...
Becoming a new parent is tricky for everyone, but parenting with a disability has its own unique challenges. More than 4 million Americans are successfully parenting with a disability, and you can, too. Here are a few tips to ease your transition into a brand new family.
Better Living with Science
Technology has given us a number of advantages to make infant care much simpler and safer. If mobility is an issue, make sure your home is as accessible as you can make it. Installing nonslip flooring, expandable door hinges and replacing steps with ramps can all make your life a little bit easier. You’ll need to purchase a crib and changing table that are accessible, or convert standard ones to be within reach.
If you are hearing impaired, consider purchasing a vibrating baby monitor and an in-sight auto mirror for the rear-facing car seat. If you are visually impaired, put bells on the baby’s socks so you are alerted when he or she rouses from a nap. Texture-marked medicine spoons and talking thermometers are inexpensive and easily available. Assistive technologies, such as CART (Communication Access Real Time Translation) and TRS (Telecommunications Relay Service) can improve access to information and communication for deaf and or blind parents and are federally funded.
For all new parents, baby proof the home early and organize it well. Many products exist to isolate particular parts of the home and make it more difficult for baby to get injured and an abundance of storage and organization solutions are as close as your local big-box retail store.
Have a Strong Support Network
It really does take a village to raise a child. The importance of having friends and family to call upon in a crisis cannot be overstated. If you’re not blessed with nearby relatives and close friends, consider joining a support group for new parents. You may even be able to find other people with your disability who can share their own advice and experiences to help you better manage your new responsibilities.
Don’t overlook the social services offered in your area; reach out to churches, advocacy agencies, and civic organizations for information and support. The ADA ensures equal rights to all Americans, which includes the right to the accommodations you need to effectively parent your child.
Get Your Finances in Order
Babies are expensive, but you have options for assistance. If you are receiving Social Security disability payments, your dependent child may qualify for auxiliary payments. There are also assorted grants and programs to help fund improvements to your home, or to help pay for assistance, available to many disabled people. You’ll need to look into what is available in your area. But even just getting on a budget and setting up an emergency fund will go a long way toward getting ready for parenthood.
The Unexpected Benefit of Having Disabled Parents
Most parents have concerns about their ability to raise a child, and disabled parents are no exception. Many worry that they may not be able to fully meet their child’s needs, or that their child may need to do more for them than other children their own age do for their parents. Take heart, your child might actually benefit from the experience of loving, and being loved by, a disabled parent. Studies have shown that growing up with disabled parents makes children more empathetic, resilient and independent than their peers who grow up without the same challenges. In and of itself, your disability is not a factor in how you will parent your child, and absent other factors, such as substance abuse, your disability should have no negative impact on the outcome of your child-rearing.
New babies bring upheaval into your life and your home. Your sleep schedule will never be quite the same, and you’re going to develop a tolerance for children’s entertainment and repetitive books and songs. You’re also going to spend the rest of your life loving someone more than you ever imagined possible. But you are up to this challenge. You have coped with your disability and found creative ways to overcome it, to fall in love and form a family. Your special insight and unique experiences will help you to be the best parent you can and raise a wonderful human being.