Facing parenthood always means unique challenges. Many parents feel particularly overwhelmed when expecting a child with a mental or physical disability. However, with well-thought-out preparations, you can rest assured about life with your little one.
1. Prepare your home:
Appropriate home adaptations support you as a parent and help your child live comfortably, ultimately able to enjoy a good quality of life and perform as independently as possible. You should alter your home to meet your circumstances, but some of the more common home modifications for children with disabilities include a barrier-free entrance, stairs-free environment, sufficiently wide doorways, and hallways and an accessible bathroom. If your current home isn't suitable for a child with disabilities, you can either make accessibility improvements or buy a new, accessible home. If you decide to move, start by searching online for accessible homes in your area.
2. Other home ideas:
Questia notes some of the adaptations many families enjoy are less structure-oriented. For example, parents should consider installing items such as alarm systems on doors and windows for children who wander; baby monitors for children who experience seizures at night; and emergency portable generators in case of power outages, so equipment remains functional. Think creatively to solve issues in your individual circumstances.
3. Toys and equipment:
Sometimes traditional toys and equipment don’t adequately meet the needs of all children. Several online stores offer specialized items for children with disabilities. Depending on the needs of your baby, you can opt for adaptive equipment, sensory integration tools and toys that are designed to encourage imagination, help develop motor skills or increase social and behavioral abilities. There are toys specially designed for children staying in hospitals.
4. Insurance policies:
One of the biggest questions for parents of special needs children is, “What if something happens to me?” The best thing you can do is prepare a safety net for your child in the form of appropriate insurance policies. There are five must-have insurance policies for parents of children with special needs:
- Disability insurance in the event you are temporarily or permanently disabled and unable to work.
- Life insurance at a value sufficient to help provide for your child’s needs as well as any costs associated with hiring help for the surviving parent.
- Social Security insurance. You should be conscientious of how much benefit your family members are entitled to and ensure you are paying inadequately.
- Attendant coverage to cover whoever is providing care for your little one. This would potentially include workers’ compensation through your homeowner’s policy, and you may also need to pay for Social Security and unemployment taxes, depending on your circumstances.
- Long-term care insurance in the event you require care at some time later in life, as your child may not be able to provide care to you.
5. Financial planning:
Having a special needs child can be expensive. As CNBC explains, parents are often looking at a million-dollar prospect when it comes to raising a child with a disability. Fortunately, there are ways to prepare for your family’s future expenses such as a special needs trust or an ABLE account. You should also establish a will, designating guardianship, a trustee, and other concerns. You can consult a financial planner and attorney for help with your situation.
Tending your own mental and physical well-being is another important part of parenting a baby with a disability. BabyGaga encourages parents of children with disabilities to take time out for their spousal relationships. As the energy and time-burden of parenting your child can be stressful for marriages.
Another key piece of your self-care plan is to get help with your little one. Reach out to friends and family members for assistance and also to ensure time for yourself. Learn as much as you can about your child’s disability, so you are empowered and take advantage of the many free resources available for families in your situation.
Parenting is challenging, and you may feel particularly daunted by the prospect of raising a child with special needs. Good planning is the key. Thanks to your smart preparations you can face parenthood with confidence.
Julia Merrill is on a mission. She wants to use the information to close the gap between medical providers and their patients. She started BefriendYourDoc.org to do just that.